Every month in 2016 I’ll share four recipes as part of Dr. John Douillard’s 3-Season Diet Challenge. My intention is to help you discover the glow we can feel – inside-out – when we eat with the rhythm of the seasons. Each new harvest brings us into balance with the sun, snow, warmth, cold and other changes in the natural world and in our bodies. Starting with this recipe, I invite you to join me in savoring this month’s flavors while experiencing the personal transformation that can come from this ancient Ayurvedic approach to food! (Find more 3-Season Diet Challenge recipes in the categories to the left (under “Recipes”) or in the search bar above.) Enjoy!
The autumn leaves still flutter on the branches outside my window. I like to think the papery-orange ornaments are clinging onto every scent escaping through the pores of my kitchen. But the winter chill is growing in the air and inspiring me to add the holy trinity of my comfort food to every dish: homemade marinara sauce, parmesan and bread crumbs. These three ingredients never fail to power my pantry. A bowl of spaghetti or wild rice can cradle the marinara, with a sunny-side up egg to add protein and make a landing pad for melted parmesan and crispy bread crumbs. In this recipe, I’ve kicked up my more simple staples with a Frisch Twist: acorn squash, preserved lemon and toasted coriander.
I love this recipe because it’s simple and unique, while still being highly adaptable to your pantry and energy level. Two squash stretch over many forks, making it perfect for serving large groups and easily adapted to what you have on hand in the way of squash and sauce. This can be made with other varieties like delicata and butternut. Homemade bread crumbs are a great way to recycle handy, hardened heels of a loaf. If you’re feeling like making this dish from scratch, start with homemade marinara sauce (or maybe you already have some stored in the freezer). Otherwise, use your favorite brand of marinara sauce. I used a jar of delicious marinara sauce made from Farmer Dina’s crops at The Hickories, a stone’s throw from my grandma’s house in Connecticut.
Leftovers keep all too well – you will fight over them for lunch. You can also turn this dish into a quick pasta accompaniment. Boil a pot of spaghetti and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the squash into pieces, heat it in a pan and add the pasta and a splash of pasta water to the pan, tossing thoroughly. A tablespoon of butter will seal everything together with a creamy touch.
Preserved lemons are easy to make and one of my absolute favorite ways to power the pantry. Try this quick and snappy recipe for keeping them in stock (substitutions included below).
You can also make a bit pot of homemade marinara sauce, and freeze it in portions for quick meals on lazy nights.
In the same way that grating a whole nutmeg will release a more powerful and aromatic spice than pre-ground nutmeg, coriander seed is always brighter when toasted whole and then ground (see below for instructions). If the addition of coriander and lemon seems too exotic, this dish will not suffer in the slightest if you leave them out. It will also be happy if you add in a handful of fresh herbs, a pinch of chili or bacon bits. Similarly, substitute Parmesan for gruyere, cheddar or whatever you have on hand.
- 2 acorn squash
- 1 3/4 cups marinara sauce
- 1/8 cup melted butter or ghee (sub with olive oil)
- 1/4 lemon preserved lemon (sub below)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed, ground and toasted
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (sub with gluten-free bread crumbs or ground almonds)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 (For faster cooking you can preheat to 425. Note: this does not fall within Dr. John Douillard's suggested guidelines).
- Prepare the acorn squash. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds (reserve them for making roasted squash seeds). Lay the flat side of each half face-down on a cutting board, and slice crescent-moon wedges (like a melon) along the natural lines. Arrange the wedges skin-side down in a baking dish.
- Prepare the preserved lemon by removing the pith (inside flesh) and rinsing the rind thoroughly to remove the salt. Mince the rind. Substitute with 1 tablespoon lemon zest or 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, butter or melted ghee (or olive oil), preserved lemon, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the squash, using a spoon or brush to coat the squash completely.
- Break up the head of garlic into individual, unpeeled cloves. Toss them in the dish. (Whenever I roast food, I add whole garlic cloves to the dish. They add flavor and make delicious, sweet, immune-boosting paste to smear on bread, blend with dips and soups or pop into your mouth straight out of the shell).
- Cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes (or 30 if cooking at a higher temperature). There are two ways to know if the squash is done: it will be fork tender and it will radiate a vibrant, sunflower yellow color.
- While the squash is baking, prepare the topping. Toast the coriander seed in a dry pan until it begins to brown. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds, or, once cooled put the seeds in a Ziploc bag and crush them with the bottom of a glass or with a rolling pin.
- In a small bowl, combine the ground coriander, bread crumbs (or substitutes) and optional grated Parmesan.
- Remove the squash from the oven and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture generously and evenly over the squash. Return the squash to the oven, uncovered, and bake for about 10 minutes longer. (For a quicker and more toasted finish, turn on the oven broiler to high and finish off the squash in about 3-5 minutes.)
- Since the seasoning in the marinara sauce will vary, let each eater add more salt and pepper at the table.
Allergens: dairy, wheat