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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Ragout

Here's another healthy dish that was surprisingly tasty.  Bon Appetit magazine published a Food Lover's Cleanse for the new year.  There are lots of nice, healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.   This one would be great as a vegetarian main course but I served it with roasted halibut.  

Here's what you need:

8-10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup tawny Port
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium butternut squash
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

First remove the stems from the mushrooms but don't throw them away!

Place the stems in a large-ish bowl with the sun-dried tomatoes.  

And pour 2 cups of boiling water over them.  Let stand about 15 minutes.

Chop the mushroom caps in half or quarters so they're a similar size.  

Peel and dice the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic.

Now heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes.  Then add a pinch of salt and cook 5 minutes more until mushrooms are nice and brown.

Then add the garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add 1/4 cup of the port and stir until it's all absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Then add the onions and squash and a little more salt and cook for about 5 minutes until onions are softened.  

Then add the remaining 1/4 cup of port and cook about 3 minutes.

Now it's time to add the mushroom "tea".  Strain the mushroom liquid into the pan with a mesh strainer and discard the mushroom stems and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes.

Next, remove the lid from the pan and cook for 5-7 more minutes until liquid is reduced to a glossy sauce.  

While the squash is cooking (or, better yet, before you even start the recipe) prepare your pomegranate seeds.  

Cut the pomegranate in half and submerge it in water.

Break the skin apart to free the seeds.  

When you do this in water, the white pith floats to the surface.  And you get less red juice all over your fingers and counters.

Put the seeds aside.  They're not actually seeds, by the way, they're called arils - an outgrowth of the seed.  You won't need all of these but the leftovers will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for a few weeks.

Once your squash is softened and the sauce is thick and glossy, pile it on a plate and top with the pomegranate seeds.  

This is great as a hearty side dish but you could make a vegetarian dinner out of it served over rice or some other grain.  

Enjoy this healthy, tasty veggie dish!

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