Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Primal Sauce

I love finding one new recipe to mix in with the traditional required elements of our Thanksgiving dinner. This year I found a fabulous recipe at Saveur, a website which I strongly recommend to everyone for an outstanding collection of wonderful recipes. The new find was for Broccoli with Sicilian Sauce. I am determined to eat well and save calories so I always look for ways to reduce calories but not at the expense of flavor. This recipe took only a few minor tweaks.

You can find the calorie and nutrition analysis here.

Anyway, the dish was absolutely outstanding and the hit of the dinner. Yes, broccoli was the hit of a Thanksgiving dinner. Ok, not the broccoli, the sauce was so superb we had a great time coming up with other foods you could us it on.

The recipe made quite a bit of sauce so there was a ton of left over. Last night we decided that it must be consumed on ravioli. Again, sublime.

Now, this is a picture of my plate. The husband and son added Sicilian olives both on top of the broccoli and the ravioli as that is what the recipe called for. However, olives are just one of those things that I cannot abide and the sauce truly did not need them no matter what the husband says. Pine nuts would be pretty, but I am trying to drop a few pounds and all they really add are pretty, some crunch, and calories.

Unfortunately, that killed every last scraping of the wondrous sauce. As we concluded this meal conversation again extended to the incredible nature of the sauce and what else it would be wonderful on. Next up will be baked potatoes in Sicilian Sauce. Here's the Recipe for Sicilian Sauce - you put it on whatever you want and let it become one of your primary "go to" sauces.

1/8 t Sea Salt
1/8 t black pepper, fresh ground
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c parsley, finely chopped
2 red onions, medium sized, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine, dry wine
2 tbsp. vinegar, red wine
1 tbsp. tomato paste, generous tablespoon
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp garlic, thinly sliced
28 oz. tomatoes, crushed include liquid
1/3 cup seedless raisins

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add parsley, onions, and salt and pepper as you like, stir often til onions are softened and browned (10 minutes or so).

Add wine, vinegar, tomato paste, oregano, pepper flakes, and garlic and continue cooking stirring occasionally until it reduces a bit to a lovely glaze (about 4-5 minutes).
Stir in the tomatoes with the liquid and bring sauce to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and simmer uncovered stirring every now and then til it thickens a little (about 8-10 minutes).

If everyone likes olives, you can add about 1/3 cup of black Sicilian olives at this point or you can set them on the table for people to add as a topping - ditto with pine nuts.

Stir in the raisins and simmer a minute or so and serve with broccoli, fried cheese, ravioli, baked potatoes, etc.....

A Primal Sicilian Style Sauce
Enjoy slowly and mindfully with family and friends in as many creative ways as you can.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wild and Brown Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

When I make Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash I feel like I have became one with the Great Julia Child, and can simply toss off a company ready, special occasion recipe with much flair.

While you are looking at the pic to the left, imagine the dissolving rivers of brown sugar making tracks in melty swirls of butter dusted with fresh cracked black pepper, covered with wild and brown rice, plumped up raisins, and toasted pecans, deliriously fragrant with rosemary, garlic, and basil:

It's impressive sensory feast in addition to just being delicious. It makes a glorious side dish or fantastic vegetarian main dish. The best thing is that it is incredibly easy to make.

Wild and Brown Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
nutrition facts


3 large or 4 small acorn squashes (nutrition facts set on three)
6 T butter
6 T dark brown sugar
fresh cracked black pepper
2 1/2 C organic chicken broth
1 C Lundberg Wild Blend Wild and Brown Rice you can use plain wild rice if you like, but I do love the blend. I suppose you could use Uncle Ben's wild rice mixes, but if you do eliminate the rosemary garlic blend and minimize the basil addition...won't be as good though and it will be way too salty.
1/2 C raisins
2 T Spice Island's Rosemary Garlic Blend (no need to grind, just open the cap and dump it in), or 1 1/4 T dried garlic and 2 t dried rosemary
1 T dried basil
1/3 C (or more if you just love nuts) smashed pecans or walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prep and measure all the ingredients. You can get fancy and toast the nuts before putting them in a partially sealed zip lock bag and smashing with the smooth side of a wooden meat tenderizer - which does a fine job of "chopping" nuts.

Using a large very sharp knife, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds with a spoon. Make sure to put the seeds and fibers in your compost bin. Place cut side down in a one or two baking pans as needed. Pour about an inch of water in to the pans, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35-45 minutes or til the flesh is tender. Take care not to poke a hole in the bottom side of the acorn half as you test for tenderness or all the buttery brown sugar will escape.

After the squash is in the oven, prepare the wild and brown rice: Bring the broth to a boil in a medium sized pan. Add the rice, cover and simmer about 30 minutes (or to not quite done per the package directions). Add the raisins and seasonings and simmer another 15-20 minutes - just til the rice is just tender and water absorbed. Add pecans and toss. Cover with a lid so it stays hot while the squash halves finish cooking.

Remove squash from the oven, turn cut side up in the pan. Place 1 T butter and 1 T brown sugar into each cavity and sprinkle with pepper. Bake 15 minutes longer.

To finish, simply divide the rice mixture in the cavities of the cooked squash. Use two large spoons to carefully plate and serve.

Take the time to drink in the visual beauty of the squash and rice, inhale the savory aroma, and the notice the contrasts of texture.

Enjoy mindfully.