Monday, November 19, 2007

NY TIMES' PUMPKIN, WHITE BEAN & KALE RAGOUT


I am a sucker for Pumpkin. I am a sucker for White Beans. I am a sucker for Kale. That was easy. Last week's Dining section of the NY Times had this Thanksgiving related recipe that I had to try. My wife and I are glad I did. It's a relatively simple straightforward side dish or vegetarian entrée. We ate it over a couple days as entrées.

I used a three pound Kabocha squash from our Farmer's Market and I used organic vegetable broth, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Cannellini beans from Whole Foods. I also found great dried Cranberries there. They're called, "Just Cranberries" by a really good company, Just Tomatoes, that also makes many different dried fruits and vegetables. A name not too hard to forget. The Parmigiano-Reggiano Sini Fulvi they have at Whole Foods right now is also very nice and worth a try. I had just used it last weekend in a Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe for Bosc Pears with Fennel, Fresh Walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, & Balsamic Vinegar. This is also a very worthwhile endeavor and particularly suited to Thanksgiving. From the same book I'd also like to recommend the Air-Dried Beef & Fuyu Persimmons with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. (the link is to an adaptation that uses Smoked Prosciutto instead of Bresaola) Sorry, I know I'm hooked on that book. If you don't have it, get it. You'll see.

I prepared the Ragout recipe verbatim and it was delicious as is. A great recipe that I'm sure I'll return to again this winter. Kudo's to the New York Times Dining Section. Check out their whole Thanksgiving coverage. There are a lot of gems like this Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Zest from last Thanksgiving.

(note: The cheese was optional in the original recipe, but I think it totally makes the dish. Therefore, I left it in as mandatory. Do as you wish.)

PUMPKIN, WHITE BEAN & KALE RAGOUT
from the New York Times

Time: 1 1/4 hours

1 3-pound Kabocha squash, sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, cleaned and chopped, white and light green parts only
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or use 3 cups cooked white beans)
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 pound kale, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese ( 1/2 cup), more to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped, plus whole berries for garnish
Coarse sea salt, for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel pumpkin or squash. Trim stem, then halve pumpkin or squash and scoop out seeds (save for roasting if desired). Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes.

2. Spread cubes out on a large rimmed baking sheet. In small saucepan, combine butter or canola oil, syrup, 1 teaspoon vinegar, kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until butter melts; pour mixture over squash and toss to coat evenly. Roast, tossing occasionally, until pumpkin or squash is very tender and caramelized at edges, about 30 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, rosemary and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft and not at all browned, about 15 minutes. Add beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in kale, and cheese. Simmer until kale is cooked down and very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin or squash and chopped cranberries; season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with additional cranberries and sea salt, and serve.

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings

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