Bright and exotic–kabocha squash with fennel and orange

http://seedtostove.com/2012/10/03/thai-inspired-kabocha-squash-soup/

kabocha squash
(image courtesy of seedtostove.com)

One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about this new commitment to cooking is discovering vegetables I’ve never tried before, like kabocha squash. After making the recipe below I had about, hmm, three quarters of a squash left, so I cubed it, tossed it with a generous amount of olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and salt, spread the cubes on a jelly roll pan, and baked them for 20 or so minutes in a 425F oven. ¡Muy pero muy delicioso!

I already knew that I like fennel*, and in a savory-sweet combination with citrus I think the taste is both exotic and bright. If you don’t count cubing the squash (I used a cleaver to whack it into pieces I could actually work with), this dish is both simple and fairly quick to make. It reheats well.

Kabocha Squash with Fennel Over Quinoa
from Cooking Light, November/December 1997

2 t. butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 t. minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. cubed peeled kabocha or other winter squash
1 c. plus 2 T. chopped fennel bulb, divided
1 1/2 t. sugar
dash of salt
1/4 t. fennel seeds
3/4 c. orange juice
1 c. quinoa (THE ORIGINAL RECIPE CALLED FOR COUSCOUS)
2 T. fennel fronds
1/2 t. grated orange rind

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add squash, 1 c. fennel bulb, sugar, dash of salt, and fennel seeds; cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes. Add juice and 1/4 c. water; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered 15 minutes.

2. Bring 2 c. water and 1 c. quinoa to boil in a medium saucepan, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Stir in 2 T. fennel bulb, chopped fennel fronds, and grated orange rind. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

* If you’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant, you may have been offered a post-meal spoonful of candy-coated fennel seeds. And did you wonder why? It’s because, in the words of Wikipedia, “fennel is widely employed … both in humans and in veterinary medicine (e.g., dogs), to treat flatulence by encouraging the expulsion of intestinal gas.” Now you know.

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