Thursday, September 29, 2011

Squash Stew with Cornbread Dumplings

At the dentist's office yesterday, I was looking at some Better Homes and Garden 30-minute recipes. The one that really got me was for butternut squash. The recipes promised to go from fridge to table in 30 minutes or less. The first instruction was: peel, seed and cube the butternut squash. Uh, 30 minutes are up!

It might not take that long, but at least 20 for a good-sized squash. I'll admit my squash came in at about 4 lbs each, but they're no more difficult to peel and dice than any other. Luckily, I thought ahead on this recipe, knowing I wanted to make it mid-week, and cut the squash up while watching the Minnesota Vikings collapse in the second half for a third straight week on Sunday. So I had a big bowl of cubed squash ready to go.

The recipe is from the book Sacred Food for Soulful Living compiled by the Reverend Ward Bauman. He's my new boss, the director of the Episcopal House of Prayer. If you order the book on the website, I'm the one who will process your order and send it to you!

Ward learned to cook from his mother in California, but he honed his skills and developed his culinary art while living in Iran for 4 1/2 years. He then got a job as the cook at a retreat center in California, where he got very good at cooking for large groups. Now he cooks for many of the retreats at our facility, tasty, vegetarian dishes that are complex and use a lot of cumin and cinnamon.

I have been looking for butternut squash recipes, and decided to try this one because it used so many ingredients I still have from the garden, including the last of the zucchini and poblano peppers. The only thing I didn't have was the basil, so I left it out. I love how the dumplings turned out, baking on top as the zucchini stews. I set the timer for 20 minutes and they were baked perfectly. I do think I should have let it cool a bit more before serving to avoid burning my tongue!

This could use a bit more heat, red pepper maybe, or just more of the spices it calls for. I did put extra cumin in it. It blends wonderfully with the cinnamon. The corn is great in the dumplings, and I might even add some to the stew as well next time. This one is good enough for company, but takes about an hour even with the squash already diced. Also, I didn't realize until just now it should have baked the last 20 minutes. I just left it on the stove with the lid on. However, it did burn a bit on the bottom, not really sticking or giving a bad taste. That wouldn't have happened if I'd baked it like I was supposed to! Also, we ate it with sour cream, which was excellent.

Squash Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings

2 Tbs vegetable oil
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 large poblano peppers, seeded and diced
2 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes, chopped (I used one quart jar of canned tomatoes)
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 lbs zucchini and summer squash, thickly sliced
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed)

Saute the onion and garlic in oil until translucent and beginning to brown. Add the chiles, tomatoes, butternut squash, cumin, cinnamon, oregano and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. (Cut up the summer squash and make the dumplings while waiting.) Add the zucchini and summer squash, basil and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer again.

Spoon the dumplings over the hot vegetables in 8 mounds. Cover tightly, tenting if using foil, avoid touching the dumplings, and bake at 400 degrees until dumplings are firm and dry, about 20 minutes. Do not over-bake or the dumplings will be dry.

Dumplings: Mix together the dry ingredients. Mix together the egg, milk and butter. Mix the two mixtures together well. Stir in the corn kernels. Let stand until the batter is thick enough to hold its shape, about 5 minutes. Drop onto stew as directed.

Serves 12 (I'd make this for 6-8 as a good one-dish meal. As you can see above, we polished off about 1/3 of it easily.)

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