Reveling In Winter Squash and Kale

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Week of Lovely Lethargy

Over Christmas, I came down with what proved to be pneumonia (my Mom was just getting over the same complaint). For perhaps the first time in my life, I am finding lolling about to be soul satisfying in a way I could hardly have imagined during my busier years. Despite the joy of getting my new stove installed, I have not even cooked in a week, something that has never happened since I became an adult.

An Internet-free Interlude

On Boxing Day, a fairly brief power outage fried our modem and wireless arrangement. Qwest took five days to send a replacement, which proved to be defective. Another is on the way, and we are hoping to be back on line early in the New Year. In order to post this, I will drive with my laptop to the public library, joining the usual throng of folks huddled in their cars in the parking lot, all companionably jacking the net together.

An Ongoing Squash and Kale Relationship

During the years when my boys were both away at college, one of my favorite meals was winter squash and spinach. Not mixed, mind you: just a nice bowl of hot pureed winter squash, with a little sea salt and some pepper, followed by steamed spinach, maybe with a little lemon juice along with the salt and pepper. For whatever reason, this was my winter soul food, simple, sustaining dishes I craved day after day.

For variety, I might stir some orange peel and fresh juice into the squash, with a dash of chili powder or Tabasco. When I found Black Tuscan kale in the market (not as common then as now), I traded the spinach for shredded kale, quickly sauteed with chopped Kalamata olives, garlic and onions or maybe some fennel seed, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.

More Manly Food For a Manly Man

When I remarried, I of course changed many of my solitary ways, including my daily diet. My dear Bud was a generation older than I, a meat-and-potatoes man who didn’t think he’d been fed unless there was a recognizable lump of MEAT somewhere on the plate, and whose favorite meal turned out to be a feast of frozen food, including (I think) Swanson’s Fried Chicken, Tater Tots, and Mrs. Somebody’s cherry pie. Whoa.

On the other hand, Bud loved to bake bread and was interested in learning how to enjoy different kinds of food (thank goodness!). He was fascinated by the way I cook, which is more intuitive and experimental than by whatever rules one is supposed to follow, and was (almost) always delighted in the result.

For many years, I wrote a weekly food column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, inventing intriguing new recipes on a frequent basis. While still working (he was the chief engineer at Seattle’s public television station), Bud reveled in showing off the contents of his lunch box, which might hold a slice of Torta Rustica or poached salmon with kale and cranberries. He did say, fairly often, that he had eaten more kale since he met me than in his entire previous lifetime.

The Kale And Squash Segue

Imagine my intense delight when I was brought a bowl of hot noodles tossed with a succulent sauce of winter squash and kale. The sauce was made by my younger son, who sauteed onions and garlic (of course) with shredded Black Tuscan kale and lots of basil (one of his minor addictions). He added pureed butternut squash, some tomato sauce, and some sharp cheddar (probably quite a lot) to his mixture before tossing it with hot pasta. Yum!

He couldn’t remember exactly what he did, so here is my version, which uses a different cheese, added at a different time, and different seasonings (OK, so I embroidered a bit). Also, instead of pureeing the squash, I kept it in bits–you could try it both ways and see which you prefer–please do let me know!

Pasta with Winter Squash and Kale

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried pepperoncini or any hot pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chopped Butternut or any winter squash (frozen works fine)
4 cups fire roasted tomatoes with juice, chopped
4 cups shredded Black Tuscan kale
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup pecorino or asiago cheese, coarsely grated

In a wide, shallow pan, cook oil and onion over medium high heat until barely soft (3-5 minutes). Add garlic, dried pepper flakes, salt, basil and thyme and cook for 10 minutes (onions will be lightly caramelized). Add squash, stirring to coat with oil and cook, stirring several times, until lightly browned (4-6 minutes). Add chopped tomatoes and juice, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until squash is tender (8-10 minutes). Add kale and capers, cover pan and cook until kale is barely tender but still bright in color (4-5 minutes). Serve over hot pasta or rice, garnished with cheese. Serves 4-6.

This entry was posted in Recipes, Sustainable Living and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Reveling In Winter Squash and Kale

  1. Erica says:

    I made your recipe for Winter Squash and Kale last night and it was truly wonderful. The sweetness of the squash combines beautifully with the greens. I didn’t have any capers on hand and I used a mix of collards and kale but I was very pleased with results. Tonight I’m planning to try your salad with beets, satsumas, and cabbage.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *