Eat Local/Cooking with Butternut Squash

Eat Local/Cooking with Butternut Squash

Part of Ep. 1706 Weeds, Wine and Chocolate

Explore the versatility of butternut squash with a five-course meal prepared by "Chef Sabi," Sabi Atteyih.

Premiere date: Aug 26, 2009

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Winter squash season is just around the corner.  Whether you grow it yourself or buy it from a local farmer's market, winter squash is really versatile in the kitchen.  We're gonna find out just how versatile, we're gonna focus on butternut squash.  I am with Chef Sabi, this is Sabi Atteyih, and I met you many years ago, well, not that many years ago, taking one of your cooking classes. And you've been a chef since?

Sabi:
1984.

Shelley:
You started when you were about two.

Sabi:
I was two years old.

Shelley:
Very talented.  And you've helped open a couple Mediterranean restaurants in the Madison area, and you really focus on Mediterranean cooking.

Sabi:
Though I like to use local ingredients.

Shelley:
That's kind of the big movement is to use local, use fresh, but I have to tell you, when I took your class, it really changed the way I cook and eat.  My husband says you can cook a chair and make it taste good.

Sabi:
Unless it's plastic, then there's no saving those chairs.

Shelley:
It's got to be a sustainable chair, yes.  And you're going to do a lot more with butternut than I even thought.  And butternut's a great plant to use because it stores well.

Sabi:
Five-course meal from butternut.  Due to the short growing season, I like to buy it in season, slice it, dice it, roast it, and save it in the freezer in containers like this with a lid on them.  This way I can, throughout the non-growing season, or hard to find season, I can take them out and make some beautiful food.  Just like we're about to do right now.

Shelley:
And you can also, if you don't want to freeze it or don't have a freezer, you can actually store it like this, keep it out of direct sunlight, and keep it between 50 and 60 degrees.

Sabi:
Very hardy skin, it's very thick skin.  So the first thing you start is you take it, cut it, skin it, and then cube it and roast it in the oven, low temperature, a long time so it doesn't fall apart on you.

Shelley:
Until it gets tender, though.

Sabi:
Yes, I want it to get tender because I want to use it for an assortment of things later.

Shelley:
And what are we gonna make?

Sabi:
The first thing we're gonna make is an appetizer, and this is Mediterranean-inspired, also South American, they use the wrap.  And what I'm gonna do here, is started by crushing the garlic, I add some of these beautiful butternut squash cubes, which I have thawed from the freezer.  And mush them just like you would make hummus, for example.

Shelley:
Oh, okay.

Sabi:
Real quick.  Notice how soft they are.

Shelley:
Sure.  Because they were pre-cooked before you froze them.

Sabi:
In the oven.  Tahini, which is sesame seed paste, is mixed in.  Lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.  Now this makes the foundation for it, I have some made here already, and I will show you the quick way to entertain someone.  This is a great dish to show when you have guest over and you want to show them how fancy you are.

Shelley:
Impress them, in other words.

Sabi:
Right in front of them.  Or you can make them the night before, fire-roasted red peppers go on top of this pate of butternut squash.

Shelley:
Then you've added color right away.

Sabi:
yes, and then I have kalamata olives, which are a Greek variety of olives.  More color in the form of dense, delicious olives.  And, of course, flat-leaf parsley that's been chopped.  By doing this, I included all the ingredients in one, I roll them nice and tight because I want to be able to slice them later.  And I'll show you what I mean by nice and tight.  And you'll notice that this is the whole one, and this is what they look like diced, sliced, and looking pretty.  Aren't you ready to enjoy some of this?

Shelley:
Oh yeah, we can just stop right now.

Sabi:
That's the appetizer, we're not gonna stop, though, we're gonna go a little bit further to show you another thing that I do.  Combining cream, the squash, and saffron.  We've all used saffron, it's a nice earthy flavor that you add to things.  And I simply simmered them.  And I smoothed this out with a blender, you don't have to.  If you like your soup chunky, you can leave it chunky, and this is a wonderful soup that you can have all year, subtle, creamy, and delicious.

Shelley:
And it looks gorgeous.

Sabi:
We'll get a spoon in a minute and sample it, because I don't want the look to be it.

Shelley:
That's my favorite part.

Sabi:
Of course.  The wonderful squash that we used earlier is useable also, one spot in a salad.  And I have a foundation of spinach here, grape tomatoes, and lentils that I blanched, I cooked in the water, and I added some vinegar, pinch of salt, and some olive oil.  And I simply top this off with this beautiful...

Shelley:
So you're not heating the squash this time.

Sabi:
That's why this is a versatile way of doing this where you freeze it and you thaw it in the fridge as needed.

Shelley:
So now it's adding kind of a cold texture, and the lentils are cooled by now, too, I suppose.

Sabi:
Definitely.  And here in Wisconsin you can use raisins or we are craisin crazy in Wisconsin.

Shelley:
Again, eat local.

Sabi:
And this will be a very beautiful salad that we're gonna share with our friends.

Shelley:
With the spinach and the squash, you've got more vegetables in there, that's just fantastic.

Sabi:
And I love the color, since the squash hasn't been flavored, I'm gonna add a little bit more of the marinade that I used to marinate the lentils, which is vinegar, olive oil.

Shelley:
Very simple.

Sabi:
And of course, don't forget a pinch of salt.  Now, appetizer, soup, salad, the main course.  This is a Moroccan dish called "tagine," it's named after the pot that it's cooked in.  The first thing you do is you flavor the sauce by caramelizing or sauteing some of the onions.

Shelley:
You've got the pan hot, already.

Sabi:
Can you hear it?  I think it's hot.

Shelley:
It's hot.

Sabi:
So we start with onions to caramelize them, I add the chicken, and this is boneless, skinless thigh.  Now this product is somewhat dry at this stage, so what I do is I add chicken broth, apricots.

Shelley:
You want me to pour this in?

Sabi:
Yeah, go right ahead.  And of course, you're gonna let this brown a little bit more, with the  chicken being what it is, it needs to cook.  You don't want chicken sushi right now.  I have a little bit of ginger, cinnamon.
Shelley:
Mm, already I can smell savory.

Sabi:
And turmeric.  These are traditional Moroccan spices, and I'm not gonna hold off on the apricots, I'm gonna put them all in there.

Shelley:
And they will soften, they're dried apricots, but they'll soften as it cooks.

Sabi:
Speaking of softening, since the butternut squash is already softened, I'm not gonna put it in here.

Shelley:
So you're gonna wait on that.

Sabi:
Once this stage is completed, what we do is, the wonderful stage of combining the two ingredients. Which is right here.

Shelley:
Okay, this is already cooked a while.

Sabi:
Notice how much more plump the apricots are?  And then I add some of this, and you let it simmer just a little bit longer.

Shelley:
Okay.

Sabi:
Once this is done, you don't have to own a tagine, but I am being fancy.

Shelley:
And it's gorgeous.

Sabi:
This is what it looks like finished.  Notice how when you cook it in the oven because of the shape, it stays nice and moist in there.

Shelley:
It's beautiful.

Sabi:
Add some of the roasted almonds, and cilantro.  And this is chicken apricot butternut squash tagine made with local ingredients inspired by Moroccan cooking.

Shelley:
Okay, a quick look at dessert.

Sabi:
The dessert.

Shelley:
The one I've been waiting for.

Sabi:
This is the focus of the show here.

Shelley:
Yeah, well priorities.

Sabi:
One of the things that I do is I love using phyllo.  And I make phyllo cups.  And they're made from four layers of phyllo, cut into circles or squares, I'm not judging.  And you put them in these little pans.  And the stuffing came from the squash, which I combined with a little bit of nutmeg.

Shelley:
Freshly ground nutmeg.

Sabi:
In Wisconsin, we like maple syrup, and the best part, which is the nut.  All you do, Shelley, is once you roast or toast the phyllo cups.

Shelley:
So you're baking them a little to harden them up.

Sabi:
Yeah.  And this is our dessert, phyllo stuffed with squash.  Our fifth item, on our five recipes from one ingredient.

Shelley:
Wow, this is fantastic, Sabi, thank you.  And we will have these recipes on our website.  And special thanks to Allen Kitchen and Bath in Madison for letting us use this wonderful kitchen.

Shelley:
For more information on everything we discussed today, and the recipes, and a complete list of all plants featured, please check out our website at wpt.org/garden.  I'm Shelley Ryan, and I'll see you again next time on the Wisconsin Gardener.

Announcer:
Funding for the Wisconsin Gardener is provide by the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+

Buy DVD »

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.