A comforting, seasonal recipe, perfect for fall


I don't know if you're like me, but I always feel as though I'm looking for new ways to cook squash, particularly in the fall. There's only so many times you can roast it with salt, olive oil, and pepper (though that method is delicious and fool proof).

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Enter these stuffed kabocha squashes. Kabocha is a winter Japanese squash with an exceptionally sweet and creamy flesh and edible skin. This makes it the perfect choice for stuffed squash, particularly if you are lucky enough to stumble across smaller varieties at your local farmers market or asian market.

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A couple recommendations: Depending on the size of your squash, you make want to microwave it for about 5 minutes so as to make cutting it a bit safer. If you choose to do this, however; I recommend that you *carefully* cut off the woody stem. Trust me on this one- I've had enough singed stems and microwave mishaps to learn to play it safe.



Onto the recipe!




Stuffed Kabocha Squash~

Ingredients:

-3 small kabocha squashes

-2 carrots, chopped finely

-1 piece of celery, chopped finely

-1 shallot, chopped finely

-1 cup of finely cubed bread

-1/4 cup grated hard cheese of choice (optional)

-2 cups of vegetable stock

-1 cup quick cooking barley

-1/4 cup parsley

-2 tbsp rosemary

-1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil

-1/2 tsp salt (+ more to taste)

-black pepper to taste

Method:


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Carefully cut off the tops of the kabocha squash, and place cut side down on a sheet tray. Place in oven and let cook until tender, about 50-60 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Place bread on a sheet tray and let toast just for 5 minutes, to dry out. Add to a bowl with the grated cheese, parsley, the 2 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Toss to coat and set aside. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat on the stovetop and add the remaining olive oil. Add the shallot, carrot, rosemary and celery and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the barley and let toast about 2 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and let cook, stirring often, about 10-20 minutes. Stir in the additional 1/2 tsp of salt. Remove the pan from the heat. Returning to your squash, scoop out the seeds from the center. Place a couple spoonfuls of the barley mixture into the cavity, top with bread crumb mixture, and place in oven to bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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A hearty salad for those in between summer-fall produce finds

Hello friends! Popping in to share this nutrient-packed (and pretty darn delicious, might I add) salad to appease those in between summer/fall days. In the south, we always tend to have a brutally warm summer, a fake-out autumn that lasts about 1-2 weeks, a summer part II, then a real fall. And oh, what a saga it is. The month of September always ends up being an odd time here, as you'll be able to find both tomatoes and squash at your farmers market. So what do we do if we want to embrace fall but it is also obscenely hot outside? We make a salad! And not the boring, sad, ice-berg-lettuce-with-a-side-of-1-crouton kind of salad. Part of making a good salad comes from appealing to the fundamental rules of flavor and texture, i.e the namesake of chef Samin Nostrat's bestselling book- "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat". First up , salt- don't be afraid to add a pinch to your dressing and roasted veggies (if you are including them). A little goes a long way in terms of making an ok meal great! Next, fat- if you can, I would highly suggest making your own salad dressing. It doesn't have to be anything complex- most evenings I forgo any formality and go directly for the olive oil and red wine vinegar in my kitchen cabinet. Now, onto acid- I addressed this earlier, but the bright hit of lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, etc., cuts right through any overtly earthy flavor from your salad greens and melds beautifully with the dish as a whole. Lastly heat- this could come in the form of red onion, shallot, radish, green onions, or even thin slices of chili or a few good cracks of black pepper. Similar to the acidic element, a bit of heat excites the palate and overall makes a boring salad exciting and punchy.

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Alright, now that I've waxed poetic about the wonders of salad, let's get into the actual recipe!

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Black Rice and Kale Salad

Ingredients~

Salad-

-1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and chopped

-juice of 1/2 lemon

-1 small butternut squash or ½ large butternut squash, peeled and chopped finely

-1/2 cup croutons, homemade or store bought (optional)

-1/4 cup roasted pecans

-1/4 red onion, sliced

-1/2 granny smith apple, sliced

-1/2 cup cooked black rice ( I used lotus brand black rice)

-1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

-juice of ½ lemon

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

-1/8 tsp red chili flakes

Chicken (optional)

-2 chicken breasts

-3 tbsp olive oil

-1.5 tbsp salt

-2 tbsp rosemary

-black pepper to taste

-zest of one lemon

Salad Dressing:

-1/3 cup olive oil

-juice of one lemon

-2 tbsp red wine vinegar

-pinch of salt

-1/4 tsp honey

-black pepper to taste

Method~

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place your squash on a sheet tray and toss with salt, Aleppo pepper, 1 tbsp of your olive oil and chili flakes. Place in oven and cook until golden brown, anywhere between 20-30 minutes. Set aside. Place kale into a medium sized bowl and add the lemon juice and 1 tsp of olive oil. Rub between hands to soften and place in fridge. Light your grill or grill pan and wait about 5 minutes for it to come to temp before using. In a separate bowl, add your chicken breasts, olive oil, salt, rosemary, lemon zest and black pepper and coat to toss. Place on grill and cook between 7-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Internal temp should read at least 165°F in the thickest part of the meat. Set aside and let rest. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to homogenize. Set aside. In your serving bowl, combine the kale, apple, squash, black rice, croutons (if using), red onion, and pecans. Chop the chicken (or alternative protein) into cubes and add to the bowl. Dress as desired and enjoy!

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The perfect vegetarian/vegan soup to kick off the fall season


Hello! It’s Sunday as I write this, and after a long week (and weekend, to be honest) I’m excited to be able to devote a bit of time to the fun kind of work (that being this blog!) It may still be a trillion degrees here in Atlanta, but I’m ready for all things squash. I may or may not have created at least three different recipes this week using squash- I am at that level of semi-crazed autumnal dedication.

Though things are a bit bleak in the world right now, nothing tends to give me more joy than experimenting in the kitchen. And thus this Kabocha and Miso soup was born! I love kabocha squash in particular for its wonderfully creamy flesh (I know, kind of an awkward sounding thing to say, but hang in there). It works so well in soup and in baked goods for this exact reason, and marries pretty magically with the rich funky flavor of the miso. But speaking of miso, let’s dive a bit deeper into its history, shall we?

Brief Miso history:


While the exact origins of miso are unclear, its precursor most likely developed in China and then spread to Japan (potentially by buddhist monks) approximately 1000-1300 years ago. Original iterations contained a mixture of grains, salt, and soybeans- while some sources say some versions included fish or crab (shishi-bisio). Although miso originally served as a method to preserve food, it eventually became a staple within the diet of the nobility and the Samurai around the 11th century. At one point in time, miso made with rice (white miso) was primarily eaten by upper class individuals due to the high expense of white rice. Peasants and lower class individuals made miso with broken rice or grains, making darker versions of miso. Before being made into a firm paste, miso was served with various meals composing of vegetables, fish, and rice and had a consistency closer to that of apple sauce, more closely resembling similar foods known as jiang or hishio. During periods of economic downturn, miso was even used as currency amongst some civilians. Miso soup was an integral component of Ichiju-issai, or roughly “one soup, one dish”, a foundation of Japanese eating that developed around the Kamakura period of Japan. Miso soup is still an integral component of foundational Japanese cuisine, however is more commonly referred to being a part of ichiju-sansei, or “one soup 3 (side) dishes”. Of course, it is important to take into consideration the diversity of Japanese cuisine as well as the diversity of miso, as many different versions exist utilizing the native ingredients of local regions.


*Aoyagi, Akiko, and William Shurtleff. “History of Miso and Soybean Chiang - Page 2.” SoyInfo Center, SoyInfo Center, 2004.

MisoTasy. “The Origin & History of Miso.” Miso Tasty, Miso Tasty, 3 July 2018.

Project, Ichiju-Sansai. “What Is Ichiju-Sansai?” All About Japan, AllAbout-Japan.com, 30 May 2018.


Sapporo Restaurants. “Ingredient Spotlight: The History of Miso - Sapporo.” Sapporo Teppanyaki - Japanese Restaurant - Manchester & Liverpool, Sapporo Restaurants, 2019. *

Onto the recipe! Roasting the squash and vegetables in the oven gives the soup a really delicious caramelized flavor, and also reduces some of the cutting time. Feel free to omit the thyme, or replace with a similar herb of your liking.



Kabocha Miso Soup

Ingredients:

-1 medium kabocha squash

-1/4 cup thyme (optional)

- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered

-5 cloves garlic, peeled

-4 tbsp olive oil

-1 tbsp bouillon

-1 tbsp miso

-1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt

-5 cups water

-black pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Carefully cut off the stem of the squash, and microwave for 4 minutes (to make cutting easier). Cut the squash into quartes, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place on sheet tray along with the onion, garlic, and thyme, and dress with olive oil and 1 tbsp of the salt. Place in oven and cook for about 40-45 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. Let cool and scoop the flesh out of the squash, disposing or composting the skin. Set aside. In a large pot, add your water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and dissolve your bouillon and miso into the water. Returning to your vegetables, add half of your squash, garlic, and onion to a high-powered blender or food processor along with half of the broth. Carefully purée until smooth, and pour into a large bowl. Add the remaining squash, garlic, onion, and broth to your blender and mix until smooth. Add all of the soup mixture back into your pot along with an additional tsp of salt and black pepper to taste. Bring heat to a simmer until warmed through, serve and enjoy!

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Specializing in food photography, the balanced apron focuses on seasonal ingredients and thoughtful storytelling through evocative imagery found on our portfolio and food blog.

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