I doubt I was the only one beguiled at my farmers' market last fall. Surely, others were similarly seduced by the amber glow of pumpkins piled under a red umbrella or enticed by bumpy heirloom orbs heaved upon a table. There must have been someone else equally enamored with a blue-green mottled squash to dub it "Frankenstein" or to load their child's radio flyer wagon with a speckled squash the size of a toddler. Perhaps another bean ogled their fall porch "decorations" with anticipation, imagining just the moment when Thanksgiving would be over and the knife would fall, splitting those little cuties in two and unearthing their smooth salmon colored flesh. Was I the only one so charmed by the opal, oblong candy roaster squash to buy not one, but two? Maybe someone else eeked away their New Year's frantically roasting seeds and pureeing pounds of pumpkins. Maybe they too peek into their freezer from time to time, marveling at the frozen coral-colored jars and tubs, and wonder just what in the world to do with all that bounty.
Eat it, of course!
I am in the midst of Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is my Green Book Club's book of the month and I'm savoring it, chapter by chapter, like a home baked pumpkin pie. In the book, Kingsolver discusses the Slow Food movement and its effort to convince us to slow down, reconnect with what is on our plate and truly enjoy our food (and the company with whom we share it). Being involved in our food production, whether it be growing backyard veggies, making homemade bread, canning summer's berries for winter's jam, or looking the farmer in the eye who grew our food, imbues the food with the flavor of memories as well as extraordinary taste.
So, to Slow Foodies everywhere, this dish, is for you:
My mom, who is a lifelong winter squash lover and avid recipe collector, saved a beautiful recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Tart from Gourmet magazine a decade ago. It was worth the wait.
The recipe, which has been downloaded to Epicurious here, begins with making pastry dough. Because my kids can't have gluten, I used this recipe for a gluten free tart crust and relied on locally milled flour (thanks for the tip, Married with Dinner). I unearthed the tart pan from the back of my pantry. It still bore the Williams Sonoma sticker on the back, a testament to the use it's received in all the years since we received it as a wedding gift.
Crunchy Chicken. I know how to make butter from local heavy whipping cream, a glass jar and some enthusiastic pint-sized helpers.
After chilling my homemade butter, I made the pastry dough only to realize that it is supposed to rest in the fridge overnight. Not to worry. Did I mention that it's all about the Slow Food these days? Who cares if it takes two days to make a tart? I'm sure it will be worth it. (It was.)
The next day, I once again collected my ingredients. A local onion turned sweet and brown in homemade butter and local olive oil. I substituted puree from the locally grown, green monster that perched on my porch all fall for the butternut squash. The puree mingled with a local egg, local heavy whipping cream, local goat cheese, backyard herbs (thyme, oregano), and non-local Fontina and then the whole mixture found peace in a homemade tart crust. After 40 minutes in the oven, the entire house smelled of autumn. Coming home from school, my five year old opened the door, sniffed quickly and pronounced "something smells go-oood!"
And it was! Did I mention, it was worth the wait?