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.
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.
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.