Farm to Fork Finale: Starring Squash and Whole Grains

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Contribution: A Savory Tart with Roasted Squash, Braised Beet Greens, Cranberries, Leeks, and Chèvre.

I was just thinking yesterday, “So much squash, so little time.”  (And, yes, I really did say that to myself.)  I’m through almost all of the produce I bought on Black Tuesday at the Copley Square Market but several varieties of squash remained on my counter and I was trying to decide what to create for our final class of “From Farm to Fork: Why What You Eat Matters.” The evening was designed to be a festive ending to the course where students would prepare a healthy meal following nutritional guidelines and adhering to principles of sustainability – their final project – to present and share with the class for a potluck dinner.

What to make? Of course, soup is often the first thing that comes to my mind, but there’s also butternut squash risotto, Moroccan squash stew, stuffed acorn squash, and squash purée as a backdrop for seared fish or other delights. And a salad of roasted squash and other autumn vegetables garnished with toasted seeds and stilton is a remarkably satisfying dinner.  I finally decided on a rustic savory tart of roasted butternut squash, braised beet greens, cranberries, leeks, and chèvre, following inspiration from a similar dish I had in a London pub in October.  It was a free form tart that also included fresh parsley, sage, and thyme and was cut into small pieces for everyone to sample (above). The crust was made using white whole wheat flour, once again giving excellent results and yielding a crust that was both tender and flaky but sturdy enough to hold up to the filling and successfully act as finger food. (I also made an individual tart for my husband’s dinner, which I’ll post along with the recipe sometime soon. I’m getting a bit behind on my blogging with sundry end of semester activities, I’m afraid.)

Clearly I’m not the only butternut squash lover, as the majority of the cooking groups tonight celebrated this nutritional powerhouse, a versatile fall favorite that deserves its starring role. Whole grains also featured prominently in the dishes, including whole wheat tortillas and whole wheat pizza dough (both home made!), brown rice, and barley, as did black beans, white beans, and lentils. Meals were happily plant-centered, which is the major way of improving your personal health and preventing disease while simultaneously protecting the planet.

Following are a few pictures from the evening that I’d like to share with you. Thanks to all of the groups for their enthusiasm, creativity, and hard work in creating such absolutely delicious meals! I also hope my regular readers find this a fun post that stimulates some great ideas in your own kitchens. Happy Cooking!

No, these are not squash brownies – dark chocolate chunk with maple buttercream.  A special  treat I made to celebrate the end of the semester.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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