Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Variation on an old favorite. Once you start on a cooking tear, one thing leads to another. I'm remembering the benefits of cooking more things from scratch, not the least of which is adding more healthy fruits and vegetables into the diet. Also the more you cook the more confident you get in doing variations and making things with what's at hand without the precise measuring, and it usually turns out fine. In this case, I remembered an old favorite, but not which recipe book it was in, nor the precise ingredients. Nonetheless, I made something close, and I think just as good by memory and incorporating things in my house already.
But the first thing I did was find a right-sized organic kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) at the local market. If you make this yourself, just think about the number of people you want to serve, and choose the size of kabocha for that many, then proportion the ingredients that will fill it, to match approximately the cavity size and a bit for the outside. I washed it and took out the seeds, being careful to also take away the stringy part. The recipe as I remembered called for baking the kabocha, but the times can vary, so I went with a more foolproof method - steaming.
So I put it into my spaghetti pot, and filled the bottom with alkaline filtered water (preserves the color and is a healthier water) - you can use regular water of course, then set the hallow kabocha in it, putting the lid back on so that it kept its shape.
I steamed it for about 25 minutes, while assembling and creating the filling. I used about 8 oz of fresh shitake mushrooms, a couple handfuls of walnuts, and two garlic cloves. I cleaned, sliced and chopped. I also had 1/2 lb. of freshly ground turkey breast. (For my vegtarian friends, substituting firm tofu would work well with this recipe.) I sauteed the turkey breast and chopped garlic first, when the meat was no longer pink, I added the mushrooms, sauteed some more and finally added the walnuts halves, which I quartered.
I then took a shitake mushroom organic gravy mix I had in the pantry, and mixed it with a cup of water, and added it to the meat and vegetables in the sautee pan, cooking it down to a thick consistency. When it was the right consistency, and about the time the kabocha was done steaming, I took it off the heat, let it rest a minute and then added a small (5.2 oz) carton of Fage Greek 0% fat yogurt.
I then spooned the hot mixture into the kabocha and capped it for a photo session before Dad and I devoured a good portion of it for dinner. We topped the meal off with some fresh nashi and plumcots. Our blood antioxidant levels must have been off the scale afterwards.
This is also my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook. I'm highlighting the kabocha for this post as it is so completely healthy, and easy to use since the skin cooks up tender and you don't have to peel it to enjoy. Just eat peel and all!
If you like the texture and flavor of butternut squash, then you'll love the kabocha. It is chock full of beta carotene, with iron, vitamin C, and potassium. It has smaller amounts of calcium and folic acid as well. Grown in the U.S. as well as Japan, it is interesting that most of the California, Colorado and New Zealand kabocha crop is exported to Japan.