Friday, January 25, 2013

Paleo Pen Pals Guest Post from Elizabeth - Sweet and Savory Winter Vegetable Bake

Read on for a guest post from my Paleo Pen Pal, Elizabeth. I sent her a Hubbard Squash, which was a squash unfamiliar to me. Ready to be a part of Paleo Pen Pals? Visit our Facebook Page and fill out the Contact Form to sign up!


For my first month as a Paleo Pen Pal, I was stoked to receive a hubbard squash from Tarah in Indiana. I love me some winter squash- acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin, butternut, delicata… in fact, as a grouping, they're one of my favorite "vegetables". But up to this point, I'd never tried a hubbard before! It was a gorgeous cucurbit if I'd ever seen one, with an almost ethereal, silvery green rind that contrasted beautifully with its yellow inner flesh. Hubbards can get reeaaallllyyy large, but the one that I had to work with was- thankfully- on the small side (probably between 2-3 lbs). 

Although my favorite way to enjoy squash is just simply roasted and mashed without any added "bells and whistles" (and because who really needs another recipe for a winter squash soup or chili?), I decided to experiment a little for the sake of creating a recipe that actually counts as a recipe! And so, here it is: 

Sweet and Savory Winter Vegetable Bake

1 hubbard squash 
1 butternut squash (about 4 cups of squash total, h+b)
2-2.5 cups finely chopped kale 
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp bacon fat
2 eggs
2 very large cloves garlic (or 4 medium cloves), finely chopped
red pepper flakes (to taste)
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp coconut flour

1. Cut squash in half, remove seedy pulp, and roast cut-side down until a fork easily pierces the skin and underlying flesh

2. As squash is cooling, caramelize onions in 2 tbsp of bacon fat over low heat. I fried 4 slices of bacon and used the leftover fat from that.

3. In a bowl, combine the roasted squash flesh with the caramelized onions and any residual fat. Mix in eggs and coconut flour. 

4. Spread half of the squash mixture into an 8x8 baking dish.

5. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to 2 more tbsp of bacon fat (I, once again, fried 4 more slices of bacon) over low/med-low heat, and let them infuse for a minute or two.

6. Add kale to pan, and saute until it loses its raw edge; add a two or three splashes of apple cider vinegar and hesitate (to let it "burn off" a bit) before removing from burner .

7. Add kale to the 8x8 bake pan, over the bottom layer of squash, then top with the remaining squash mixture.

8. Bake at 375F for about 35 minutes, or until the top seems set 

The product was delicious. Although it would still taste good using a different fat, I think the bacon fat is critical to making it REALLY tasty (not only because it's bacon, but because it really marries the squash and kale). I served mine with the bacon that I cooked to get the fat, an egg, and avocado. I think it would go extremely well with pulled pork or any sort of barbecued meat, though (probably because the kale tastes so much like collard greens!). 

     As for the hubbard squash itself, I tried a few bites of it alone after it was roasted, and though it wasn't sweet like some of the    other winter squashes, it was extremely flavorful. Nutty, not like      pumpkin. The texture was similar to the butternut, except a bit starchier and less "creamy".