Monday, January 26, 2009

Roman Hash and Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions

I made this for company last week, with roasted chicken and roasted butternuts with onions. Usually I make Roman hash in a large skillet on the stove, but I was making a lot of it, so I used a large roasting pan and made it in the oven. It worked so well that it is my new preferred method. I used the pan first to make the roasted butternuts with onions, then when they were done I started the chickens. I took the birds out after 20 minutes, let them rest while I made the Roman hash in a cooler oven, then finished the chickens at that temperature. As each of the vegetable dishes came out of the oven, I transferred them to smaller, oven-safe bowls. When the chickens were done, I let them rest before carving them, and meanwhile reheated the vegetables in the oven.

We call Roman hash that because in Deborah Madison's The Savory Way, she describes getting this dish from a Roman neighbor. It's good all year round, and a favorite of mine to pair with roast chicken. It also makes a satisfying main dish or meal. One of my dinner guests was a vegetarian, a fact that escaped me because he is also a cook who is interested in meat. He ate Roman hash and butternut squash and was happy.

Another guest asked for the butternut recipe. The secret ingredient that makes roasted butternut and onions so delicious is roasting time.

Roman Hash

(adapted from a recipe in The Savory Way by Deborah Madison)

The proportions of ingredients are not that important, hence the vague measurements. Try it with purple potatoes: the colors are very striking. Other kinds of hearty cooking greens are also good in place of collards. Sometimes I make a lighter version of this without potatoes or cheese.

1-2 lbs collards, cleaned and veined
2 cups small red potatoes
3-4 fresh or canned tomatoes, quartered
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
freshly grated dry, salty cheese like Parmesan or Romano

Boil the red potatoes whole in their jackets until tender, about 15 minutes. Let the potatoes cool enough to handle, then slice into quarter-inch slices.

Chop and steam the collards.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat the pan in the oven, add the red pepper and olive oil, let warm in oven for a few minutes.

Add the boiled, sliced potatoes, tossing them in the warm oil, and let roast for ten minutes. Turn the potatoes and bake for another ten minutes.

Add the garlic, greens, and tomatoes, tossing the mixture, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Onions

This is loosely based on an old Jewish-Italian "suffocated squash" recipe. It is very sweet: sometimes I make little Middle Eastern-style phyllo pies full of this mixture, and they're like fruit turnovers.

You can double this, but do not fill your roasting pan more than half full, or you will get steamed, mushy squash that takes forever to dry out and roast.

1 large butternut squash
2 yellow onions
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. (A melon baller is a handy tool for removing the seeds and goo from the inside of a hard squash.) Thinly slice the squash.

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Toss the squash and onions together with the oil, salt, and pepper, in a large roasting pan.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, then carefully flip all of the squash and onions over. Keep roasting and turning the mixture every ten minutes. Eventually the squash slices will soften and break. It is not important to try to keep the squash intact. It is important to move the vegetables at the corners of the pan into the center, rotating their location so you don't get burnt vegetables at the corners of the pan, and it all roasts more or less evenly. Keep roasting and turning until there are many warm, caramel brown places on the onions and squash, and nothing has burned yet, about an hour.
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