Butternut Squash, Tomato, Fennel and Orzo Casserole with Sage

orzo casseroleOrzo is the rice version of pasta – it’s a bit bigger than rice when it cooks up, but you get the idea. Definitely under cook the orzo when assembling this dish or you’ll have gooey pasta in your casserole by the time you bake it with all the added ingredients. Butternut squash is the star in this dish – as it should be. We love butternut squash in all sorts of winter dishes. That and the sage just seem to go together like Ginger and Fred and in this dish they do quite the dance.  Oh, and if you’re not a fan of orzo – not everyone is – substitute one of those darling mini pastas, like baby penne or tiny bowties. This dish, by the way, is supremely child-friendly.  Danielle demoed this at US Botanic Garden and Brookside in February 2015, when our month’s theme was “hearty casseroles.” Adapted from the original by Martha Stewart.

1 C orzo pasta
1 small (about 1 pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch wedges
1 small red onion, slices into half moons
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 small bulb (¼ pound) fennel, rinsed and trimmed of stalks and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 T fresh sage, chopped
1 C Monterey jack cheese, shredded
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Topping:
1 C Panko breadcrumbs
1 T olive oil
1 T parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water for the pasta to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly firm to the bite; drain and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, spread the butternut squash in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tender, 12 to 15 minutes then add to the bowl with the orzo.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and garlic and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Lastly, add the tomatoes and sage and increase the heat. Bring the mixture to a boil for 2 minutes, then transfer to the bowl with the orzo and squash. Mix everything well, season with salt and pepper. Add the shredded cheese and mix again.

Transfer orzo mixture to an 8×8 baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted. While the casserole is baking, mix together the panko, chopped parsley and olive oil. Remove the foil from the casserole and sprinkle the top with panko mixture. Bake, uncovered, until panko is toasted, about 10 -15 minutes more. Serves 6.


Greek Zucchini Fritters

zucchini fritttersThe zucchini this year has been fantastic. Typically by mid-August borers hidden in the stems of squash plants have done their work almost overnight rendering foliage into wilted into a mass of brownish detritus. The few plants that do withstand a borer invasion rarely survive the onslaught of squash bugs, which spread a fungus that paints plant’s big, coarse leaves with white powder. I measure my success in growing squash in how long I can keep either one of these scourges at bay, and this summer has been a banner one. It might be the cold winter we endured, or our relatively cool summer here in the mid-Atlantic, with far fewer hot and humid days than we typically experience, but whatever the reason, the  zucchini, patty pan and yellow squashes have been coming on abundantly and the plants are showing no signs of stress yet.patty pan Read More



Asian Salad with Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes

 

This favorite summer salad is so flavorful you’ll be going back to it again and again. I use the least expensive salmon I can find – as long as it is fresh and sweet. I’ve never tried this with canned salmon – I fear that would be too salty.  But good farm-raised salmon can be had for about $6/pound on sale and a pound makes a dozen cakes, enough for six servings. The salad itself combines mesclun or baby greens with fresh herbs for a summery, intensely flavored final result. Adrienne demoed this recipe for a class at Brookside June 17, 2014. Adapted from Cuisine at Home. Read More


Meyer Lemon Green Beans

meyer lemon beans

Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, are in season for just a short time across the holidays. In this recipe, the sweet-tangy flavor that is unique to these tasty lemons brings a fresh and different dimension to fresh green beans.  The breadcrumb and cheese topping complete the effect, making this one of the best sides of the season. Make extra sauce and topping and keep them in the refrigerator for other green vegetables, including broccoli and asparagus.  Serves 6-8. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More