We are so very into fall foods here. And so many wonderful “A” foods for our chef’s alphabet.
We’ve had pureed oven-roasted Acorn squash, with butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg.
We made Applesauce in the crockpot with kid-picked Minnesota Apples. It was so good as is that the kids insisted that I add no sugar. OK!
Un-recipe: throw a bunch of peeled, cored apples into the crockpot with a 2 tablespoons of water and the juice of a lemon. Cook on high for about 3 hours, or until it is preferred texture.
We also had one of those rare “Z”foods, which is an original Red Sea (well, pre-Red Sea) recipe that 75% of us love, and 25% of us tolerate fairy well. Try our
This is a classic from our so-called “pseudo-vegetarian days.” Whatever, dude!
Slice one onion into half moon rings. Do this before you start anything else, as the more slowly and thoroughly you carmelize the onions, the more surprised and delighted you will be by this simple recipe.
As you very slowly carmelize the onions in olive or canola oil, slice zucchini into half moons slightly bigger than 1/4″ thick.
Zucchini is a great thing for beginning slicers to work on. We practice slicing even slices, which is good for manual dexterity as well as intuitive math concepts. Sometimes we talk division: Cut a piece in half “how many do we have now?” cut it in half again “how many now?” and so on.
When onions are just nearly carmelized to your liking, turn up the heat and prepare to quickly pan-roast the squash. (This assumes that you have been cooking the onions on low heat.) It helps to use a large pan to allow the squash to lie flat in a single layer. Do not stir! Allow to brown on one side, flip squash and sear on other side. (Thin slicing allows you to brown the squash nicely and soften it just enough to taste good without making it smushy, which is disgusting, especially to texture-sensitive children . . . or adults.)
This is it. Really. Put it in white or whole wheat tortillas and enjoy. Add shredded cheese if you must, but the cool thing about this meal is how you extract so much good flavor from simple ingredients that you don’t need cheese. Unless you have children who are freaked out by big pieces of onion and are on the fence about squash, in which case you can use tongs to pick up zucchini without onion and add a bit of cheese to keep the peace.
We’re also eating a lot of another kid-favorite fall food, another un-recipe recipe
Simple Squash Risotto
I don’t really measure for this one, so it helps if you already know how to make risotto.
Before beginning the risotto, as early as the morning or day before, steam chunks of butternut squash until soft, remove peel, mash into smooth near-puree.
Basically prepare by heating olive oil, sauteeing minced onion (lest the onion chunks offend the young), the sauteeing the Arborio rice briefly in the mixture, then adding hot stock in cupfuls as they are absorbed. (I usually have about 6 cups of stock at the ready.) Starting with a 1/2 cup of white wine instead of stock is always lovely, of course, but optional.
Now the tricky, by-feel part: when you think the risotto nearly done, mix in some squash. Add slowly: you want the rice, not the squash, to be the dominant texture, so mix in thoroughly before adding more. Maybe start with a cup or even 1/2 cup squash for 2 c. dry Arborio rice.
Meanwhile, grate a bunch of parmesan cheese. With the final addition of stock, add the cheese and a pat of butter. (Butter really smooths out risotto, and you don’t need much.)
For children, grating and stirring are both fine tasks. I love to let Victoria stand and stir the risotto, as I am quite lazy about stirring it myself and have totally given up on the notion that you must stir it constantly. With Victoria around, I get a nice, gently, constantly stirred risotto and a happy kid who gobbles up her dinner.
I did see at Whole Foods a very attractive chicken breast stuffed with pumpkin risotto, and I’m sure you could do the same with this. We tend to eat it as an entree rather than a side.
We’re not starting our official chef’s alphabet til next week — our main focus is going to be on herbs and spices, to train our palates! (Ooh la la!) I have a terrific dish — another old vegetarian favorite — for our Allspice meal. Yum!