Friday, August 28, 2009

Squash with Blossoms Intact & Sweetmeat Platter

This week I've been featuring the various vegetable sides I served with barbecued lamb last Friday night at the urban farm I was care-taking.

Barbara and Morris, whose farm it is, are back from their vacation. Barbara emailed me that she's been enjoying reading the posts about her garden. She was particularly taken with the idea of stuffed squash blossoms - she thought she might try and make them.

If you've been thinking you might like to try your hand at stuffing squash blossoms, and if you're also concerned with the work involved, you may prefer to try the vegetable side I'm featuring today.

Pan-sauteed summer squash, with blossom intact, (pic above) is the fourth and last vegetable side I prepared as an accompaniment to the barbecued lamb. Just as stuffed squash blossoms look pretty on the plate, so too do blossoming baby squash, and sauteing the whole baby squash is much easier and less fiddly than removing the blossom and stuffing it.

Having sung the aesthetic praises of the dish in the pic above, I have to admit I'm not a fan of the taste of yellow squash. I love the flavor of green zucchini, particularly baby zucchini, which is mild and indistinct. Conversely, yellow squash has a distinct flavor; it's not subtle like green zucchini.

Perhaps you feel differently or perhaps you hadn't detected a flavor difference. Regardless, do try impressing your friends or family with this pretty veggie.

Sauteed Squash with Blossoms Intact
1) If you can pick baby squash from your own garden do so, if not, you may be able to find squash with the blossom still intact at a gourmet grocer.
2) Wash squash and gently cut stamen from inside the blossom.
3) Heat a skillet lined with a little oil or butter or ghee. Ghee, or clarified butter, has a nutty flavor that will enrich the flavor of the squash.
4) Toss whole squash into skillet, moving skillet back and forth across the hot plate so squash doesn't burn on one side.
Note: Because lamb was on the menu, I tossed some sprigs of fresh rosemary into the skillet with the squash. Rosemary goes so well with lamb and because squash can be a bit like a sponge, I knew it would take on the flavor of the herb and act as a rosemary-infused veggie pairing to the lamb.
Once squash are lightly browned, turn hot plate to low, put lid on skillet, and allow squash to cook just a few more minutes. Don't overcook the baby squash, they only need a few minutes on the stove and can be served crisp and crunchy.

To Serve: Arrange squash decoratively on a serving platter, adding a few sprigs of rosemary. You might like to serve a small dipping bowl of melted ghee or clarified butter. Dipping the squash into the butter and then eating them with one's fingers is a real treat!

And for dessert, I decided a help-yourself platter of sweetmeats would suffice since lamb is heavy as are root vegetables.

Also, the vegetable sides served with dinner were sweet and earthy so I thought a platter with Barbara's wild strawberries, and the crisp tartness of Braeburn apples would follow well the main meal.

The addition of dried dates and almonds gives the platter a Middle Eastern feel (lamb with dates and almonds is particular to the Middle East). And at the same time, with the absence of soft summer fruits, the platter is very autumnal which also compliments the main meal of fall, root vegetables.

To enrich the platter, I added pieces of Chocolove Chocolate. And that caramel-colored chunk next to the chocolate is Gjetost cheese, a Norwegian goat cheese that's caramel-like with the distinct pungency of goat's milk. It's absolutely delicious with dried fruits, nuts, and crunchy fresh fruits like apple.

And so this is the end of my postings on meals made from Barbara and Morris' urban farm garden. Read back over the past two weeks of posts if you wish to revisit the farm, the photos, the stories, and the sides I made from the fabulous array of fresh-picked summer and fall vegetables.

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