Friday, October 7, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Polenta with Fresh Sage

The abundance of winter squash at farmers market means fall is officially here. Celebrate this harvest by making some creamy polenta. Last night I made a wonderful Autumn polenta made with roasted butternut squash that I like to make for special holidays such as Thanksgiving, but once you taste it, you won't want to save it just for special occasions. I just love how the squash enhances the flavor. Actually this is so good, that I had planned to make homemade manicotti today and stuff it with my leftover butternut polenta--but hubby had a different idea to polish off the bowl I had tucked away, and instead, made himself breakfast this morn with the polenta and drizzled maple syrup and some almonds on top. So much for my lunch today..sheesh!

I’ve really become a big fan of polenta. It’s rich, creamy, warm, and comforting, and the perfect blank canvas to work with. I almost always add a nice handful of freshly grated cheese to the mix. Sometimes I wilt some spinach or chard into it, or top the polenta with an assortment of mushrooms, but my latest addition has been to include roasted butternut squash,garlic and herbs. The gentle natural sweetness of the roasted squash just gives this dish some oomph that we thoroughly enjoy! Not only is it delicious, I think I'm loving polenta as much as I love risotto for it's versatility. (and if you follow this blog regularly, you know how much we love risotto around here!) Did I tell you that I made roasted tomato risotto last week that was to die for?! If not, well I will very soon. :)

Seriously though, polenta really is so versatile You can serve it freshly made, all that creamy warm goodness and simply savor it. Or as I had planned-- include it into some freshly made manicotti as well. Or you can allow it to set after pouring it out onto a baking sheet, and then cut it into squares to pan fry later and top with your favorite fresh veggies, mushrooms or greens--or even serve it for a brilliant breakfast idea too! LOL Any way you slice it, it's the best leftover dish you'll ever have!

Roasted Butternut Squash Polenta with Fresh Sage

3 lbs butternut squash, halved lengthwise, and seeded
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 TBLS olive oil
3/4 tsp fresh sage, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
1 TBLS fresh sage, minced
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBLS olive oil
1 cup sliced Mushrooms-Shitake mushrooms, button mushrooms. I like to mix them up
2 shallots, minced.
1 garlic clove, minced
fresh summer savory, minced
fresh Italian parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Arrange squash, cut side up, in large sheet pan. Place garlic cloves in squash cavities. Drizzle olive oil over each. Sprinkle with sage, sea salt and ground pepper. Cover lightly with foil and bake until squash is tender, about 1 hour.

Cool the roasted squash completely and puree in food processor. Set aside.

Sautee the mushrooms garlic and shallots in olive oil until cooked. Set aside.

Combine broth, water and salt in heavy large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture is thick and creamy, stirring often, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in fresh sage and squash puree.

Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese. Add seasoning to taste. Cover and let sit for a few minutes. Rewarm your mushrooms mixture.

To serve, pour the squash polenta into your bowl--topped with the warm mushrooms and lots of grated cheese. Sprinkle fresh parsley and savory and serve.

I served this with roasted pork loin and apples, with a crisp garden salad and homemade applesauce. Dee-liscious! Enjoy the holiday weekend everyone.. we're heading up north to do some leaf peepin'.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf

I was flipping through my cookbooks the other day hunting for a turkey meatloaf recipe that wasn't bland, like some turkey recipes can be and spotted Ina Garten's version, and decided to give it a try. I didn't make the five pound version, as suggested--it was only for the two of us after all and we still had plenty left over for sandwiches the next day.. in fact more like three days! There is something really satisfying about a meatloaf sandwich, and I loved that this was made with turkey. Traditional beef meatloaf isn't made too often around here, and when I do make it, it's usually in some sort of loaf pan. I really liked free forming this turkey loaf--The Barefoot Contessa came through again!

The only changes I made to Ina's recipe was to sub in oatmeal for some of the crumbs and instead of topping it with ketchup I just used my family's favorite sauce topping -- a blend of ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar. This loaf was made in the morning before work,and then refrigerated. So I just popped it in the oven when I returned. I have to say, it was so tasty, plus so moist, yet didn't fall apart when I sliced into it. We loved it, and I'll be making it again soon!

The Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten

2 large onions, diced small
2 TBLS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or (1/2 tsp dried)
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp tomato paste
3 pounds ground turkey
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sauce topping

Meatloaf Sauce Topping

4 TBLS ketchup
4TBLS brown sugar
2 tsp white vinegar

Whisk all together and spread over any meatloaf you prepare.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs,oatmeal, eggs, and cooled onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the sauce topping evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the meatloaf is cooked through. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich. Enjoy!
** Note: (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.)