Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Interesting Vegetables: Part Infinity

Today, my friends, we must devote our attention to a very serious, and often painful, subject. You've made the decision to take one home; you're sure its going to change your life. You promise to care for it, learn the ins and outs of its personality and feed it, regularly. It seems fine initially, but you're not 100% in love. Sure, there's a period of adjustment, that's natural - you're certain that, in time, your love for it will grow. And, yet ... it doesn't. Something is wrong. Something is very, very wrong. You've failed to bond. Your much desired new addition now lies fallow and resentment begins to build. Next comes neglect - its almost as if it doesn't exist. We've all been there. Its ok, you're safe here and you can admit it.

Here, I'll go first and ease the way: "My name is Diva and I have neglected my microwave."

More specifically, I should say, I have neglected my much desired combination microwave/convection oven. I was absolutely certain this device was going to change my life! Revolutionize my holidays! Leap tall building in a single bound! Ahem. At a minimum, I was certain I'd use it for more than popping popcorn ... I really haven't. My shiny, happy micro/convec does indeed lie fallow - relegated to only the most meager chores ... warming soup and zapping veggie patties. How very sad indeed.

Then again, let's be honest - most food cooked in a microwave sucks. Period. Granted, the microwave has cornered the market on reheating left-overs - and for that its indispensable. As for actual cooking I can think of only one area where the wave really shines ... squash. Its perfect for taming the squash beast ... be it spaghetti, butternut, acorn or what have you. Roasted squash is divine, to be sure, but when people are hungry and need to be fed, you simply can't beat the wave for a quick, easy squash dish.

Savory Steamed Acorn Squash:

  • 1 large acorn squash, washed, seeds removed and quartered
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • an assortment of spices, including: nutmeg, paprika, curry powder, Chinese Five Spice powder, whatever you like
  • Pure Maple Syrup
Place the quartered squash in a microwave safe pie dish and fill each of the hollows with some of the minced shallot. Season the squash with salt and pepper and dust them with a combination of any of the spices listed - last night I used curry powder, paprika and nutmeg - and place a few small drops of maple syrup in each of the hollows. Cover the dish tightly with waxed paper and microwave on high for approximated 6 minutes, or until the squash has steamed and is tender. (Alternately, you could cover the dish with plastic wrap, but I don't like cooking with plastic. Your choice.) Cooking time may vary depending on the strength of your wave. Test it with a fork to be sure its cooked throughout. Serve and enjoy!

Now, I know the maple syrup isn't very Beachy ... but its delicious, and I only use a few drops. The sweet/savory combination of the shallots, spices and syrup really brings the flavor of the acorn squash to life. I vary the spices, depending on my mood and you really can't go wrong here so feel free to experiment! Microwave steaming yields a very moist and tender squash and the texture is just lovely. If wish to go the more traditional route, you can pepare the squash as above and roast it, uncovered, in your oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or so.

Last night, I served the squash with some really yummy baked pork chops ... and I'll tell you all about them ... tomorrow. Stay tuned!

So, have you been neglecting your microwave? Or have you bonded with it in a way I have yet to master? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!


Miss Caught Up said...

Interesting... I'll have to give it a try one of these days. Seems less work than actually cooking hehehe :)

Michele said...

I only use my microwave for pathetic is that? Considering that it takes up so much of my precious counter space you think that I would make better use of it. If it were up to me I'd chuck it in the dumpster, but Phil loves the microwave way too much and I'm sure that he would declare war.
I've never tried making squash in the micro...I think it would be a great way to soften them up for cutting and prepping. You've given me an idea or two. :-)

Deb said...

Microwaves are good for three things - micropwave popcorn, making squash and heating things up (defrosting that meat you forgot to thaw for supper falls into this category for me).

I just don't like microwave prepared foods!


Dana McCauley said...

i loves me some Chinese five spice powder - sounds delicious!

I think this would be delish made on the bbq with a few wood chips smouldering along side, don't you?

The Diva on a Diet said...

I agree, Dana, this would be absolutely delish roasted on the bbq with some fragrant wood chips. I hope someone will try that and let us know how it is ... I've got no backyard here in the city, hence no grill. Booo! :(