Sunday, December 10, 2006

Culinary nirvana

Have you ever made a recipe that leaves you speechless? You finish eating and, while you know you are full, you just want to keep eating so that you don't have to stop tasting the food. It is just that amazing. I did that tonight. I can not take credit for the recipe. I really wish I could. It is a recipe that Erielle post over on Fancy Toast a few weeks back.

I started off by roasting the butternut squash that I bought at my local veggie market. There is just something so homey about roasting squash. Warm, sweet, smooth. So very orange.

Now, as much as I cook and experiment in the kitchen, there is one thing I have never been able to do with regular success. I struggle with caramelizing onions. About a quarter will caramelize, half will be transparent (nicely sauteed), and the remaining quarter are solid brown and dehydrated to the point of being tough. I can't figure out what I am doing wrong. They still taste good. They especially still taste good when you add garlic, fresh sage, and goat cheese. ::drool:: Goat cheese! Everything is better with goat cheese.

Roasted Butternut Squash Purée with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Sage
~adapted from Butternut Squash Ravioli Recipe at

1.5 pounds of butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
1-2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped finely
3 oz. goat cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Cut the squash into two halves and scrape out the seeds. Discard seeds (or save for garnish). Place the squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour, until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the onions by cooking them over medium-low heat in the butter for about twenty-five minutes. Add the sage and garlic about halfway through the cooking time. When the onions are soft, dark, and caramelized, take them off the heat and stir in the goat cheese. When the squash has cooled, scrape the flesh into a bowl. Add the onion mixture. Using a hand mixer, blend the squash and onions until smooth and creamy. Season to taste.

Seriously amazing food. Unfortunately, this does not make a full meal. I needed to make another dish. No problem. I had extra goat cheese! Boil up a pot of Tinkyada. Toss it with olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, goat cheese, and... black currant vinegar. Yes, that's right, black currant vinegar. My aunt gave me about a 1/2 cup of it to try out. It is amazing. Sweet, strong, zippy. I'd venture to say it is better than balsamic, and I love balsamic. I emailed her for the name of the store she purchased it from. If they have a web site I will pass it along.

So tonight I ate an at-home gourmet meal: Black Currant Goat Cheese Pasta and Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onion, Sage, and Goat Cheese. If you couldn't tell, my belly is feeling better :) It is a good thing. And best of all? Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!


ByTheBay said...

It is KILLING ME that I have to wait until I go home tonight to try to cook this dish! It sounds so good, I can totally imagine how divine it tastes.

Ellen said...

Shannon - I think we need to talk!!! You kindly included me on your list of gluten free blogs - I am a former music teacher - my husband and I now perform fulltime as children's musicians ( We live in Massachusetts, but we were in your area this past weekend. We had performances in Lindenhurst! I would love to chat with you by phone. If you have some time, email me at and we can make a phone date, ok!!!

Mike Eberhart said...

Squash... excellent! I like butternut, and I really like a variety called Carnival that my wife makes too. Both have a rather mellow and pleasant flavor. For me, squash is good as long as it is not TOO strong tasting.

Anonymous said...

Shannon - that sounds incredible. Ellen is my sister and we have many of the same tastes so you can bet we'll both make that squash recipe. As for me, goat cheese is the end a local restaurant (CORAL SPRINGS FL) they make a salad with goat cheese, sugared walnuts, raspberries and strawberries with a lime-balsamic die for! Anyway, my blog is very new, only a week my inspiration from my big sis....take your blog....