Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Wholesome Food - Autumn Black Bean and Squash Tacos, with kale and feta and other tasty business

We were recently in the States for my brother's wedding, in DC.   We decided to make a bit of a holiday out of the trip so after the wedding we went north to Boston to visit my friend Katy.  Katy, being world-wise, took one look at us on arrival and asked if we wanted to stay in for a home cooked meal on our first night with her.  

YES PLEASE, we responded.

She then asked if we would be ok with something vegetarian, suggesting black bean and squash enchiladas.  

OMG, we responded.

Katy and her husband Kevin contribute to a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) which means they pay a lump sum in January towards supplies for a local farm, and spend most of the rest of the year picking up weekly (or fortnightly?) boxes of tasty produce.  Very similar to our veg boxes here, except that we pay for each box individually.

Katy and Kevin have become very creative in how they use their glut of produce, treating us to fabulous pickled carrots and showing us a drawer full of jarred tomatoes for future sauces, and inventing brilliant recipes like black bean and squash enchiladas.  

They also mentioned a favourite recipe involving kale and goats cheese tacos.  So, with a glut of kale in the garden, and some gorgeous kabocha squash in the store, I got to thinking.

Up until my eye-opening experience with Katy, I have to admit that my squash adventures were limited to the butternut variety.  Butternut squash is great, but kabocha appealed to me due the description of a less sweet, nutty, almost chestnut flavoured skin.  It seemed ideal as a main component to this dish.  

However, I also knew that roast squash and fried onions are two sweet ingredients, so I thought that feta and sour cream would provide a good bit or salt and sour to balance the sweet.

I purchased whole wheat tortillas because I really wanted corn but couldn't find any - they were a bit on the large side so made these more burrito-ey than taco-ey, but actually the whole wheat was another great flavour addition.

The recipe, serves 2-3 with no sides:

1 kabocha or squash of your choice.  You can eat the skin, so be sure to wash well.  Alternatively, remove the skin before roasting.
1 large red onion   
2-3 leaves of curly, or other thin-leafed kale
1 small tin of black beans
Whole wheat tortillas
Feta, avocado, and sour cream/creme fraiche to taste

Start by quartering your squash and removing the seeds.  If you don't want to eat the skin and it's a thin-skinned variety, remove the skin using a veggie peeler, before cutting.  If you use a thick-skinned variety you can just leave it on during roasting and scoop out the insides when it's done.

Drizzle olive oil over your slices and roast at 180c for about 20-30 minutes, flipping to ensure maximum caramelizaion half way through.    

While the squash is roasting, assemble your other ingredients.  

Fry off the onion -I prefer thinly sliced into crescents - for a few minutes, then add your (drained and washed) black beans and torn up kale.  Remember to separate out the tough stalk of the kale before adding it in.  

When your squash is ready, take it out of the oven and allow to cool enough so it's comfortable to handle, then dice up and add to the onion/bean/kale mixture.  At this point you will want to start heating your tortillas as well - either in the microwave, on the stove top, or however you like to do it.

Add your squash/black bean/kale/onion mixture to your warm tortilla and top with avocado, feta and sour cream/creme fraiche.  I decided not to add salsa but that would probably be a nice addition.  You can certainly play around with the ingredients.  

I thought the dish was brilliant, though also found that the creme fraiche addition was absolutely necessary as it would have been rather dry without.  Rab liked it but this is definitely an "Emily meal" more than a "Rab meal" 


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