First Friday Free Recipe: Baked Winter Squash with Asparagus and Wine
The November First Friday Free Recipe from “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0” is a great side dish for holiday meals, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, etc. Usually you will see 1,001 recipes for turkey, ham, fish that every chef and everyone’s home cook is giving their ‘secret recipe’. Instead of inundating you with yet another way to bake a turkey, I thought I’d give show a way to create a visual presentation and mouthwatering side dish to add to the family feast.
I haven’t always liked vegetables and when I was younger, salt and season salt were my favorite spices. Now, I’m older with health issues and I have to watch what I put in my body. I created this recipe a few years ago for a friend’s potluck Thanksgiving. I’ve made it with winter squashes, Acorn, Butternut and Crookneck. If the skin is thin enough, I eat that. Another reason I like winter squash, is they are lower carbs for us diabetics. Skins have great taste and fiber, along with vitamins and minerals. Since vegetables are getting so expensive these days, I will peel the bottom rough parts of the Asparagus (and broccoli) if they are thick enough. If they are the thin type, I’ll just go ahead and snap them off. If you’re the handy homemaker type (i’m not) you can save all your vegetable scraps (peels, seeds, tough parts, etc) during the week in a bag in the fridge or freezer and make a big pot of vegetable broth or stock. Freeze that in pint or quart containers and have your own vegetable stock for soups and dishes.
Let’s talk about spices. If you’re like me, I’ve only used cinnamon on top of my toast or oatmeal and if I was adventurous, in my hot cocoa. Since then, I’ve learned cinnamon has been used for millennia all over the world in most every culture and cuisine. It’s been used as a natural preservative for foods, used in meat dishes throughout the world and in healthcare. I’ll talk more about this during the month.
I’m a big fan of simple, thus my cookbook, “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0”. Nothing is more simple than fresh fruits and vegetables with spices and flavorings. In this recipe I use wine over the crosshatched squash. You can substitute chicken stock (low-sodium or salt-free) homemade if you don’t drink wine or alcohol. The long cooking time will dissipate the alcohol so you only have the flavor.
Since I don’t use salt in my cooking or at my table, I will use more spices than you are probably used to using in your cooking. When I was an undergraduate, my doctor at the time told me to stop using salt in cooking and at the table, that fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables had more than enough occurring sodium naturally to more than meet my daily nutritional needs. So began my love affair with spices.
Baked Winter Squash with Asparagus and Wine
1-2 Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut or Crookneck), halved and seeded
1 bunch Asparagus, bottom shaved instead of broken off if large.
1 cup either vegetable stock or water
1 cup white wine
Spices: 1/2 – 1 tsp ea. Ginger, Thyme, black pepper, cinnamon, paprika and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
1. Crosshatch the squash, carefully pour 1/2 wine over crosshatch marks and place 2 asparagus spears in each center, drizzle with EVOO, rubbing it in the crosshatch marks. Arrange extra asparagus between the squash halves.
2. Mix the spices and sprinkle over each half. Pour wine and water in bottom of baking pan.
3. Bake at 350 for an hour or until fork or knife enters and removes easily from thickest part of squash.
4. If served as a side dish, serve 1/4 of the side of squash and 3-4 asparagus spears. If served as a main dish, serve 1/2 of the side of squash and 4-8 asparagus spears. Will serve 8-side dishes or 4-main dishes.