Squarsh

I’ve been trying to broaden my culinary horizons as of late. That doesn’t mean that all of a sudden I’m purchasing things like cod and consuming them, no sir. But I am introducing some foods that don’t gross me out as much as fish does, and to my surprise I’m finding out that many of them are fairly tasty, if not great (a good tomato, for example). I don’t know what’s compelling me to do this….wait, actually I do. Weight loss.

I gained a substantial amount of weight after the wedding and surgery, and am now vying mightily with my body to get it to drop down 12 more pounds. It was 20 pounds to begin with, which is a testament to the value of strenuous exercise. Take the marathon away from the girl without removing her marathon-style eating habits, and what you’ve got is Jabba the blonde in no time flat. I lost the first 8 in the last two weeks, but those were easy because much of it was water weight. Now I’m down to the nitty gritty, and that means that sometimes I have to have squash for dinner.

On the whole, I’ve grown up with considerable animosity toward all things squash-like. I even hated pumpkins, which I thought were beautiful and important falloween decorations, and which I loved to carve, and whose seeds were excellent for toasting, but gross for eating the flesh. I still can’t get behind a pumpkin pie, but I have a feeling that’s going to change this year. Last year I made pumpkin bread for a neighbor in distress, and it turned out so delicious that I started hesitantly experimenting with pumpkin desserts and am feeling really pumpkin-brave. Maybe I’ll do a pumpkin curry…maybe.

But lately I’ve been trying really hard to give squash a chance. I’ve selected the sexiest squash by only buying from WhoFo or Central Market. I’ve consulted the internets to try and find the best recipe ideas. I’ve done the whole “paper bag over the head” thing by putting zucchini in kung pao. I’ve been a little squash ambassador.

And this is helpful, because squash are filling, healthy, and have virtually zero calories. Which is a Good Thing.

So when I made dinner the other night, I made a whole delicata squash to go with it. Guess what? Delicata squash are delicious. Like, really, really good. And super easy to prepare! I just cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and delicata guts, filled a pan with 1 inch of warm water, placed the squash cut side down in the water, and baked at 375 for about 15-20 minutes, or until a knife slid easily into the squash. Then I pulled it, cut it, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Done. Easy.

But it’s not like we could just eat squash. I’m not about to martyr myself for a few measly calories, so we also had some sides. The full plating ended up with couscous, glazed carrots, delicata, and sirloin steak roulades.

Roulades are so pretty, and so easy to make. There’s no reason you can’t do it with any type of meat, even though poultry is the most common I’ve seen. This was a “wing-it” recipe, and ended up so good that I thought you guys should have the low-down.

Beef roulades with balsamic and red wine reduction

1 free-range sirloin steak, big enough for two people
1/2 onion, small dice
3/4 C panko crumbs
1/4 C chopped parsley
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic, roasted until soft and sweet
1/2 C red wine (whatever you’re drinking)
1/2 C balsamic vinegar (at least a semi-decent one)
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure: Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Using a paillard (meat mallet), pound the sirloin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. This may take a while, but get it evenly flat and thin, and place the sheet of beef on a thick piece of plastic wrap.

In a large pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and saute the onions until they start to brown just a touch. Add the panko and toss to combine thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes

Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides, then spread the filling over the meat, leaving a one inch space on one side that is uncovered.

Roll the roulade like a jelly roll, and use the plastic wrap to keep it tightly formed.

Oil an oven-safe pan that is large enough to hold the roulade with at least one inch of space all around. Heat it to near smoke point, then sear the roulade on all sides (after removing it from the plastic wrap, doy). Deglaze with wine, then add balsamic and place the whole pan into the oven.

When a meat thermometer registers 120 F for the meat, remove the pan from the oven. Place the meat on a cutting board to rest, and reduce the liquid in the pan until it thickens slightly. Stir in the roasted garlic, taste, and season as necessary. This is a very powerful glaze, so expect a flavor punch.

Cut the roulade into 1″ segments, and fan out on the plate.

Top with the glaze and serve.

I love that a single steak can stretch to make two dinners and a lunch for the next day. Filling it helps, as does my sorrowful dieting. But it’s the squash that’s the unsung hero of this meal. So go forth, my little minions, and eat squash! It’s not like it’ll ever run out, because it’s a demon vegetable.

11 thoughts on “Squarsh”

  1. Nice Roulade. Do you let it set up in the fridge (in plastic) for a bit before you sear it?

    Also, we began our squash adventure about 3 years ago. I married an orange-food adverse individual. But the allure of a vegetable that was less than $1/lb in Alaska wins. We really like the white acorn squash–good with tomatoes. Good luck!

  2. I didn't let it go to the fridge because it's already going to cook semi-unevenly, and I didn't want to exacerbate that. It is a lot more malleable than chicken when it's pounded, so it stayed together fine after sitting tightly in plastic for 15 minutes.

    Alaska? I bet it's super difficult to get fresh produce there. Poor you!

  3. Dude. Squash is what fall is all about. Delicious squash dinner from 2 nights ago: hollowed out acorn squash filled with ground pork browned with onion, farrow and grated parm. Topped with more parm. Baked covered until scrumptious. The farrow is nutty, chewy/crunchy. And pork & squash were made for each other.

    Good to see you broadening your horizons. The roulade looks loverly. I like that it was the side dish. Very Michael Pollan.

  4. I haven't had Delicata yet (mostly because the stupid squash vine borers killed that plant off, so all I got was one tiny butternut), but I like grilled yellow crookneck and grilled zuchinni. Also, sauted pattypan (that's the UFO looking one) with a chili pepper is good.

  5. What a healthy but delicious looking meal! I love squash so very, very much. The first time that I made Mike spaghetti squash "noodles" in a sweet potato curry sauce, he looked at me like it was time to re-evaluate the relationship. But now? He ASKS for it. Oooh yeah. Squash is magic.

    PS – I think you look hot just the way you are.

  6. Brooke spelled farro wrong. And she is supposed to be the smart one.

    I also hated squarsh (my extended white trash family calls it that too!!) as a child unless is was pumpkin pie. About 5 years ago, I randomly began to like zucchini and have slowly been forcing myself to like the winter gourds. Delicatas are nommy, as are butternuts when diced, tossed in
    S & P & oil, and then roasted.
    But lets face it– it's best when pureed into dessert. It just is.

  7. I've had this bookmarked for ages and finally made the roulade last night. OMG thank you for posting the recipe for that. It was a big hit, and totally made up for me being a huge spaz who forgets within the span of five seconds that pan out of the oven = hot. My former-pro-chef boyfriend was even impressed with the tastymeat. Though he got home about the time I was cursing with my hand under running water, and dinner was still edible. I figure a tasty dinner that doesn't involve an ER trip (the last time I made bread by hand it involved stitches) is a win. Thanks for being awesome, funny, and inspiring me to try terrifying new things!

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