Saturday, March 28, 2009

No grain, no pain

Adele and I are beginning to commit more and more acts of blasphemy with regard to the USDA food pyramid. Namely, we're undermining the entire grain-based foundation of the pyramid and substituting squash and tubers - mostly sweet potatoes - for grains like rice and pasta. We're not on some anti-grain crusade (Adele would probably trade in our obese cat for a perfect baguette), but squash or sweet potato is a wonderfully delicious and filling substitute for our typical grains. Squash or tubers are the staple foods of many cultures across the world and are fundamental to traditional peasant cuisine. No need to stick with rice or pasta every night when there's so much variety out there that still fills us up and serves our carbo needs. And bonus: we also get pretty colors on the plate!

This is what tonight's meal looked like in it's original state: dandelion greens, onion, garlic, butternet squash and eggs.

Start with the squash by cutting it in half lengthwise and spooning out the seeds. Place them flesh-side-down in an oven-safe dish with perhaps an inch of water, cover and bake until soft, about 40 minutes. Start checking for done-ness after about 30 minutes by poking the squash with a sharp knife. If the knife slides through with no effort, it's ready to serve.

While the squash is baking, think about the dandelion greens and the egg. The greens are longer to cook than the egg, so think about that first. But at some point during the process, crack an egg per person into a ramekin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, place in a skillet or pot and add enough water to come halfway up the ramekin. Bring the water to a boil and cook the eggs until the whites set to your liking. (It doesn't take long...)

For the dandelion greens, slice the onion and roughly mince the garlic. In a skillet, heat a bit of finely cut up bacon (I highly recommend it for the taste, but feel free to use olive oil or butter) until the bacon shrivels and crusts, leaving a hot layer of bacon fat. Remove the rinds with a slatted spoon and preserve. Sautee the onions and garlic in the bacon fat until soft. Add the dandelion greens and stir to cover with the oil. Add salt and pepper and a teaspoon or two of sugar and cook until the greens are as crisp or as soft as you like them.

Remove from heat, return the bacon rinds to the greens and stir.

Serve everything piping hot, adding a generous pat of butter to the squash and toasted wheat bread to sop up the egg if you want.

Prep & cook time : about an hour
Price : approximately 4$ for two people

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