Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wrapping up the flavors of fall

Last Saturday I went to the last farmer's market of 2010 in downtown Billings. The growing season is short in Montana - and I am always envious of folks who still have months of fresh local produce ahead of them.

From my article recently published in Magic City magazine, here's a bit more about autumn and a recipe. For the complete story and a delicious Basil Vinaigrette, read Golden Fall Flavors: A Winning Combination

Autumn is perhaps my favorite time of year in Montana. From the bright yellow leaves of the aspen on my beloved Beartooth hillsides to the proverbial cornucopia of fall produce at farmer’s market, everything seems to be bathed in a golden glow. Here's a wonderful way to enjoy the nutrient-richness of winter squash or root vegetables (roasted sweet potatoes would be perfect).

Butternut Squash Tacos

This recipe reflects my usual approach to cooking: Check out numerous recipes online and in books; take bits and pieces from several; and mix it all up with what ‘must-go’ in the fridge.

The foundation for this version of a traditional taco served in southern Mexico and parts of Central America is butternut squash. Serve the roasted squash with as many of the following items as you wish – allowing everyone to create their own tacos. Note: If some of your diners don’t want to go completely vegetarian, include your favorite fajita meat (chicken, beef, or pork) or crumbled ground beef.

· Warm corn (or flour) tortillas, excellent with our own local Trevino’s Chipotle-Flavored tortillas

· Black beans, whole or mashed with garlic and jalapeƱos to taste

· Guacamole or simply diced avocadoes

· Chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce

· Cheese – queso blanco (feta is a nice substitute) or a finely shredded cheddar

· Fresh pico de gallo or your usual prepared salsa

Roasted Butternut Squash

· 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch cubes (substitute any winter squash with firm flesh, including pumpkin)

· ½ cup chopped sweet onion (½ inch pieces)

· 1 large sweet red pepper or 2 Anaheim chile peppers, chopped in ½ inch pieces

· 2 tablespoons olive oil

· 1½ teaspoons cumin

· 1½ teaspoons coriander

· 2 teaspoons chili powder
(more or less to taste)

· ½ teaspoon salt

· 1 fresh lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil. Add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and salt (if desired). Continue tossing until all veggies are well coated with oil and spices. Transfer to a heavy baking pan.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges of the squash and onions begin to brown. Rotate the pan and stir halfway through cooking.

Squeeze fresh lime juice onto roasted vegetables and serve with other taco fillings.

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