butternut squash

roasted veggie tacos + a video!

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, vegan, vegetarian, winterRachel SandersComment
vegan vegetable tacos with aji amarillo sauce

So remember a little (er, long) while ago when I said you'd be getting a taco recipe soon? Well, rejoice! Soon is now.

This is one of my favorite recipes. And, it's vegan! You'd never know! I actually forgot it was vegan the last time we made it until halfway through my second taco.

That's actually the kind of vegan cooking I prefer. We're not vegan, but we really don't eat meat more than once or twice a week, if that. We save the meat for dishes that really need it, like sausage bolognese and meat lasagna and roasted chicken (not quite sure how one would make this without the chicken), and focus on the vegetables the rest of the time. I will probably always eat this way, mainly because I have never met a vegan lasagna that can hold a candle to normal lasagna (mainly because I have never met a vegan cheese that can hold a candle to cheese).

My friend Andrew and I made this video back in January (note my pre-spring skiing alabaster complexion), and then I promptly sat on it for a number of months while moving/working/traveling/being a bum. So now that squash is back in season, it's high time I made good on my taco promises and gave you this recipe already, especially since it's ideal camping season in most parts of Utah. Even though I roast the veggies in the oven and cook the kale on the stovetop, the ingredients for these tacos are robust enough that you can make them ahead of time, pack them in your cooler, and reheat them in the backcountry with no discernable changes in quality or texture. They've been a featured item on more than one trip, and since getting fresh veggies in our tummies while camping is sometimes an issue for us, I'm always super happy when these are part of the rotation.

(Some of you are going to balk at the homemade tortillas thing, since that is admittedly a more time-consuming element of these tacos. I mean, I like these tortillas a lot, but you don't have to make them if you don't want to. I'll still be your friend. And even I don't bother with making the tortillas when we take this camping, mainly because we'll eat more than I can practically make. But seriously, do make the orange sauce, because it is like liquid crack and you can use it on your eggs/chips/burgers/veggies/significant other, so you'll definitely use up the full batch.)

Huge thanks and the biggest of bear hugs to Andrew for shooting this video with me and for helping me to eat all of the tacos afterward! Do yourselves a favor and check out his other work at

a few good squash (I used 1 large butternut and two delicata, but feel free to use whatever densely-fleshed squash is your favorite)
1 pound carrots
olive oil
1 bunch lacinato (dino) kale or Red Russian kale
kosher salt

TACO ACCESSORIES - tortillas, orange sauce, chopped cilantro + white onion, sliced avocado, toasted pepitas

Peel the squash (delicata squash can be unpeeled), remove any seeds, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds or half-moons. Place the veggies in a single layer on two baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil, and toss lightly with your hands to evenly coat. Place both baking sheets on separate racks in your oven, and turn the oven temperature to 400˚F. Roast for 20-30 minutes, rotating the sheet pans once, until the edges of the veggies are becoming crispy and the insides are custardy.

While the veggies are roasting, stem, chop, and rinse your kale (do not dry it). Heat a cast-iron pan over a medium flame. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan and let heat for a few seconds before adding the kale. Sauté the kale until it begins to wilt (the water from rinsing will help the kale to steam and break down). Add a pinch of kosher salt, and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the kale is soft and easy to bite through.

Remove the vegetables from the oven, sprinkle with kosher salt, and add to the pan with the kale. Set aside while you heat the tortillas, and gently reheat if necessary before serving.

ORANGE SAUCE (makes 2 cups)

Note: this recipe is inspired by both a salsa from Tacolicious and one from the beloved Q'ero in Encinitas, CA.

Turn your broiler to high. Lay the onion slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until they begin to blacken on one side, about 5-10 minutes.

While the onions broil, heat a heavy bottomed skillet over a medium flame and add a couple of teaspoons of canola oil. Add the chiles de arbol and the garlic cloves to the pan, and cook until the chiles are beginning to turn dark, the garlic is beginning to turn golden, and the whole thing smells smokey and delicious (this only takes a few minutes if that, so keep your eye on the pan).

Remove the chiles and garlic from the heat, and pour into the cup of an immersion blender or the carafe of a stand blender. Add the broiled onion slices, and pour about 1/4-1/3 of a cup of boiling hot water over the vegetables and let sit for 5 minutes (this will help them soften for blending).

Add the aji amarillo purée or tomatoes, the vinegar, and a large pinch of salt to the carafe and blend until puréed (it's okay if there is still a little bit of texture). Add the agave nectar and oil, and blend again until thoroughly mixed. Taste the sauce and add more vinegar/salt/agave/oil as necessary to get your desired balance of flavors.

The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

1 red onion, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
canola oil or other neutral oil
1/2 cup dried chiles de arbol
6 large cloves garlic
boiling hot water
1/3 cup aji amarillo purée or two medium tomatoes
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
kosher salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar (syrup) or 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup canola oil

adapted from King Arthur Flour

Combine the flour and cornmeal in a medium bowl, and add the oil, mixing to combine. Dissolve the salt in the water and add to the bowl, mixing to combine with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, adding a little more flour to the board if necessary. Divide the dough into 8-12 equal pieces (depending on how large you would like your tortillas) and roll each piece into a ball. Set on a plate or baking sheet, cover with a damp dishtowel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the rest covered, press the dough ball using a tortilla press (if you don't have a press, which I don't, place the dough ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, fold the wrap loosely over the ball, and press using the bottom of a dish or a pan). Place pressed tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp dishtowel while you work with the rest of the dough.

Once the tortillas have all been pressed, heat an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat and line a dish with a dishtowel or large piece of foil. Cook the tortillas for 1-2 minutes on each side, until the color is light with some golden spots. Remove cooked tortillas to the lined dish, and keep covered with the towel or wrapped in foil while the others cook.

Serve immediately.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup blue cornmeal
4 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup + one tablespoon water

parsnip, squash, and apple galette with sage-onion jam

autumn, breakfast, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

I have a friend who doesn't eat leftovers.  Yeah, I don't get it either.  He has a (much appreciated) habit of inviting people over to his house, making a crazy amount of amazing food, and then sending us home with to-go containers at the end of the evening.  Once, as he was shooing us out of his house after handing each person a jar of arroz con pollo, I weakly asked him why he didn't want to keep any food for himself.  He shrugged and said, "I just don't eat leftovers."  This seemed like a non-answer, but I was feeling very possessive of my jar at that point so I didn't press him further.  While I, too, love to cook for others, I've recently come to rely on leftovers as crucial ingredients in weekly dinners.  Roasted vegetables, cooked lentils, and grains from previous meals are often added to our frittatas, pastas, and salads, and when we're feeling fancy, galettes.

"Galette" is a French term for a free-form pie, among other things; it can also refer to an open-faced tart or cake, or an open-faced crepe. The great thing about the pie version is that you don't need any random tools or equipment to make one, and they are just as delicious (in my mind) as standard pies and tarts. If you have a cookie sheet, a card table, and a barbecue, you can knock out an amazing galette.  And you probably have a cookie sheet, a kitchen counter, and an oven, so you are over-prepared!

If you have made pies, tarts, or galettes before and have a habit of making pie crust from scratch, here is where I wish you well and send you down the page to the recipe. However, if you generally purchase pre-made pie crusts, you may not want to hear me say this, buuuuut, I really think you should be making your own pie crust (and I'm so glad you're on the other side of your computer screen so you can't punch me). In the time that it takes you to go to the store and buy a pre-made crust, you could have made your own and have it chilling in the fridge for you. And when you make your own, you can add all kind of yummy things to make it special, as I like to do in this recipe.  But pie dough seems intimidating and time consuming, and I completely understand why.  You probably have specific textural end goals (as you should), and you've likely heard people tell you all kinds of things that you absolutely MUST do to make it perfectly flaky and tender!

And now someone else is going to be upset at this next thing I'm going to say, buuuuut, you don't have to follow all of the normal rules to make delicious and flaky pastry.  Full disclosure: I made this pastry dough by pinching. the. butter. into. the. dough. with. my. fingers.


With my fingers!  Not a food processor or a pastry blender or two knives but the THINGS that are attached to my HANDS!  Sacrilege.

Should you choose to go this heathenish route yourself, a few things will help you along the way.  One, make sure your butter is straight-out-of-the-fridge cold when you begin working it into the flour. Two, should you feel your butter heating up and getting a little melty (i.e. soft and oily), throw the whole bowl (butter, flour, and all) into the fridge for five minutes to cool down. If you're working in a moderately cool kitchen, you probably won't need to put the bowl in the fridge at all (and if you have poor circulation, as I do, this will be one of those rare moments when you will find your icy-cold hands useful). Three, take a deep breath, and know that everything is going to be okay.  You are making something with butter, flour, and seasoning from scratch, and at worst, it is going to taste pretty freaking delicious.

Parsnip, Squash, and Apple Galette with Sage-Onion Jam
There is a lot happening with this recipe, but it is easy to make the components in advance and assemble it just before you're ready to bake; you can easily omit a vegetable and increase another if you aren't a fan of parsnips or squash, though I really like the added sweetness of the apples so I encourage you to keep them in the mix.  If you prefer a juicier galette, use an apple variety that breaks down during cooking, such as Golden Delicious; for a richer tart, dot the filling with goat cheese before you fold up the sides of the pastry.

Pastry (base recipe adapted from Thomas Keller; additions inspired by traditional flavorings for gougeres) - makes enough for two galettes, two tarts, or one double-crust pie
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
a few good grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated hard cheese, such as Pecorino-Romano (which is what I used) or parmesan 2 1/2 sticks cold butter
5 tablespoons ice water (or possibly more)

Sage-Onion Jam
2 tablespoons butter + 1 teaspoon butter, divided
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced from top to tail
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
A splash of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage

3-4 cups roasted vegetables (such as parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or a mixture; I used parsnips and squash, though I might omit the parsnips next time as their flavor is a bit strong)
1 apple (I used a Fuji, because it was what I had on hand, but use whatever you would like; baking apples, such as Granny Smith, will get softer than Fuji)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
juice of one lemon, divided
fried sage leaves for garnish (make by heating a little butter in a pan and frying the sage leaves until crisp but still green)

Make the pastry: combine the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, kosher salt, nutmeg, dry mustard, black pepper, and grated cheese in a bowl, and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and drop into the bowl with the flour (alternatively, you may combine the flour and butter in a food processor).  Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, or pinch the butter into the flour with your fingers, breaking up the butter into smaller pieces as you go (or pulse your food processor a few times to break up the butter into smaller pieces).  You should end up with pea-sized (or smaller) nuggets/little smears of butter throughout the flour.

Drizzle the ice water over the butter-flour mixture, and mix (or pulse) to combine.  The dough should be crumbly, but should stick together when pinched with your fingers (if it does not stick together, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time).  Press the dough into itself a couple of times while still in the bowl, just until you're sure it is mostly coming together.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and divide it into two equal (albeit, crumbly) pieces.  Press each piece into a flat disk, and wrap both tightly in plastic wrap.  Set in the fridge to chill for at least one hour, or up to three days (the dough will be eatable after this point, but the flour may oxidize and become grayish).

Make the sage-onion jam: melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, and stir to coat evenly with the melted butter.  Add a pinch of salt to let the onions sweat; you want them soften at this point, but not brown.  Listen to the onions as they sweat, and if you notice that the sound seems loud, it is likely that your pan is too hot and the onions are beginning to crisp.  Stir occasionally so that the onions cook evenly.

Once the onions have softened, add the dark brown sugar and turn up the heat to medium.  Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, so that the sugars caramelize and the onions begin to brown.  They will move from pale beige, to golden brown, to a light caramel.  Once they reach this light caramel stage, turn up the heat a notch, add the vinegar, and stir to scrape up any onion bits stuck to the pan.  Continue cooking the onions until they reach a deep caramel color.

Scoot the onions to one side of the pan, and melt the teaspoon of butter in the empty space in the pan.  Add the sage to the melted butter, keeping it separate from the onions while it cooks.  Once it has crisped and the color has changed to a dark, muted green (this will take about a minute), mix the sage into the onion mixture.  Cook for a minute or two more, stirring frequently, then remove from the pan and let cool.  Scrape the mixture out onto a cutting board, and run your knife through it a couple of times (this will make the mixture less stringy and more jammy).  Taste and add additional salt if needed.  Set aside, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.

To fill and shape the tarts: preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the pastry disks from the fridge, and let sit, still wrapped, at room temperature for 10-20 minutes.  Unwrap one disk, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pastry into a 1/8" thick circle, and transfer to one side of the parchment lined baking sheet.

Slice the apple into pieces, and set aside.  Spread half of the sage-onion jam in the middle of the pastry round, leaving a 2-inch border of bare pastry.  Mound half of the roasted vegetables on the jam, and tuck half of the apple slices among the vegetables.  Fold the pastry up and over the vegetables, overlapping the folds so that there are no places where the filling can escape.  Once the pastry is all folded, press around the tart gently to seal the pastry folds.  Gently scoot the galette to one side of the pan to make sure there is enough room for the second galette.  Repeat with the second pastry disk and remaining vegetables and jam.

Once both galettes are filled, cut one tablespoon of butter into pieces and scatter over the top of both tarts.  Sprinkle the exposed vegetables and apples with the lemon juice.  Bake at 375-degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 10-20 minutes, or until the pastry is fully cooked and golden brown.  Top with the fried sage leaves, and serve warm or at room temperature with a green salad.  You may also refrigerate the tart for up to two days;let it come to room temperature, or rewarm it in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.

roasted vegetable soup with brown butter and sage

autumn, soups, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

I am a soup person 365 days out of the year, but if I had to limit my intake to one season, it would be winter. There is a place in my heart that goes soft for homely cabbages and cauliflower, and especially so for squash. While summer vegetables like tomatoes tend to play a harmonic role in soup, with a constant, identifiable presence, winter vegetables are melodic and subtle and infinitely supportive of complex flavors.  They can be gently nudged towards sweetness, or given immense savory depth.  I especially love swirling bright green, herby oils into creamy squash soups, a crucial addition to help stave off my longing for spring.

The following recipe is based on the classic flavor trio of butternut squash, browned butter, and sage, but the soup itself is basic enough that it can be drastically altered by the garnishes and flavorings.  I've included a few ideas below, and I would love to hear the ways in which you choose to enjoy this soup yourself.  But if I may offer a suggestion, I think you should make the sage breadcrumbs regardless of whether you plan to use them on the soup.  They keep for weeks, though they probably won't last very long since, if you're like me, you'll want to sprinkle them over everything.

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Browned Butter and Sage
serves 4-6 as a starter

1 butternut squash (weighing about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into large (1 1/2-inch) chunks
4 small parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 cups sliced leeks (roughly 2 medium leeks; once sliced, rinse thoroughly to remove any grit, then drain before using)
lemon juice, to taste
salt, to taste

For the garnish:
A small knob of butter (1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage + 12 small fresh sage leaves
osher salt

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the butternut squash and parsnips together on one baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil.  Place the cauliflower florets on the second baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil.  Put both baking sheets in the preheated oven, and roast, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are fork tender and beginning to turn golden brown (20-30 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium-low heat, and add the onions and leeks.  Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the onions and leeks are soft, translucent, and taste mellow and sweet.  Add the butternut squash, parsnips, and half of the roasted cauliflower (reserve the rest) to the onions and leeks, plus a pinch of salt, and pour in enough cold water to just cover the vegetables.  Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10-15 minutes to further soften the vegetables.

Once the vegetables are soft, turn off the heat and purée the soup using a stand blender or immersion blender.  Add additional water if necessary to create a soupier consistency, and season to taste with lemon juice and salt (you should not be able to taste the lemon juice, but it will brighten and heighten the flavors of the soup, as will the salt).  Divide soup among bowls.  Garnish with the sage breadcrumbs, reserved cauliflower, and fried sage leaves, and serve immediately.

For the sage breadcrumbs: heat most of the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat, and add breadcrumbs.  Cook, stirring frequently, until breadcrumbs color and begin to turn golden brown.  Scoot the breadcrumbs over to 1 side of the pan, add a small pat of butter to the empty space, and add the chopped sage leaves.  Let fry in the butter for a minute, then mix them into the breadcrumbs.  Season with a good pinch of salt, and remove to a dish to stop the cooking.  The breadcrumbs may be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

For the fried sage leaves and browned butter: heat butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Cook for a few minutes, paying attention when the butter stops foaming and begins to brown.  Keep cooking for a few more minutes until the butter approaches a golden brown color, then add the sage leaves.  Fry the sage leaves in the butter until they stiffen and crisp, but are still a bit green (they will darken a little).  Remove leaves to a towel or paper towel lined plate, and continue to cook butter until it reaches an amber color.  Immediately take butter off of the heat, and remove to a dish to stop the cooking.  The sage leaves and butter may be made a few hours in advance; gently reheat the butter on the stove or in a microwave before using it to garnish the soup.

Other ideas for garnishes/additions: Roasted chickpeas, yogurt, and harissa Toasted pepitas, salsa verde, and crema Toasted walnuts, fried sage, and crumbled goat cheese