Compared to last year, both our order and our injury count were nearly double.
In fact we were joking we needed to put up an "hours without incident" count. HA! I'd ended up with a sprained wrist and wore a wrist guard for most of the week. And in a valiant effort to save a falling loaf pan, my sister used a David Beckham style soccer kick and ended up with a bruised foot.
Other minor issues followed...
Perhaps it was the lack of sleep. Or perhaps we were just hungry. Probably it was both.
On one of those super long on-our-feet, pie-filling-in-our-hair kinda days, Patrick brought us nourishment from an Afghani restaurant in San Carlos. Our favorite order there is a sweet pumpkin dish called Kadu that is served with a savory meat and yogurt sauce alongside perfectly cooked basmati rice. It's one of those pumpkin dishes that I can eat any time of year but tend crave it intensely when the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to change color.
And since Monday was the last day we had off before heading back to work (I believe some folks call it... vay-cay-tion), I was determined to spend it at home and wanted a comforting meal to top it off. With Thanksgiving just behind us, and no pumpkin on hand, I turned to our favorite substitute... butternut squash.
While not complicated to prepare, this dish takes time, mostly due to the slow roasting of the squash. Don't make this dish if you want dinner in 30 minutes. This is more of a lazy Saturday (or in my case Monday) type of recipe.
Perhaps following a marathon of American Pickers and shoeless gardening (okay let's just be real... I was in my pajamas, at noon...deal with it). I'd given the tomato plants a good pruning, harvested the dwindling remnants of the little yellow lollipop fruits, and transplanted a few succulent starters. (Btw, if anyone wants to trade succulent cuttings let me know!).
These heirlooms were my favorite planting I'd done over the summer. I've been sneaking them into recipes all season long, and this recipe is no exception. But feel free to use your favorite tomato in their stead.
Oh, and another thing... since we've been among the many who've overindulged this season, we are going back to more of a Paleo meal plan. So we made this recipe Paleo by using olive oil instead of canola oil and coconut sugar as the sweetener. Small changes... No bigs.
Madhava Natural Sweeteners was kind enough to send us some of their organic coconut sugar to play around with. The sugar has a texture that is more along the lines of caster sugar and smells more like a light brown sugar. The back of the bag also says it works as a 1-1 substitute for regular cane sugar so I'm excited to try baking with it.
It was perfect for this recipe because of the deep molassesy nature of the sugar. If you can believe it, we actually used a third less sugar than the recipe initially called for and it was still wonderfully sweet.
Once the squash went into the oven, I started on the duo of sauces immediately. If you do the yogurt sauce first and get it out of the way, by the time the second sauce is simmering and just beginning to thicken, the squash will be done and ready to serve hot.
I'm convinced of the restorative properties of warm squash, "brown" sugar, and meat sauce. It's a dish that heals, comforts, and satisfies from within.
Days without incident? Six and counting!
butternut squash with yogurt and meat sauce, paleo & gluten free
Adapted from Habeaus Brulee's recipe for Kaddo Bourani
servings: 6 to 8
for the pumpkin:
for the yogurt sauce:
for the meat sauce:
to make the butternut squash:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the course skin from the squash and slice lengthwise in half. Quarter each section lengthwise so that you end up with eight pieces per squash. Place strips in a single layer at the bottom of a glass baking dish. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with coconut sugar. Cover with foil and bake for 1.5 hours.
to make the yogurt sauce:
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
to make the meat sauce:
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven on medium heat. Brown onions, about 8-10 minutes. Add ground beef, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Cook for 5 minutes, then add tomato paste and water. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally. Once butternut squash is done, add remaining juices to the sauce. Simmer until the liquid reduces by about 2/3, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Serve the dish by layering the sauces atop the butternut squash.