True to the origin of ideas, I prepare this Special Dish for the Week with its original main ingredient—the tricky to crack but delightful to taste butternut squash—for a Saturday night dinner with a lovely friend, serving a menu chez Maggie, where we eat with love, comprised of 3 courses and paired with beverages of choice, featuring as the main course (le plat principal):
Butternut Squash Tagine
Though the days are slowly growing longer, and the temperatures and rains of the West Coast appear mild, warming the body and the soul with spiced, earthy and colourful dishes adds even more joy into the cold and dark winter season.
I begin this feast for all of the senses by serving a Leek and Yam Potato Soup, garnished with finely chopped broccoli flowerettes that join the chopped cilantro, quickly becoming a favourite addition for raw nutrients and added texture.
The Tagine main course (le plat principal) is accompanied simply yet elegantly by pre-soaked tri-colour quinoa, which enriches the dish with its own distinct slightly nutty flavours..
- butternut squash, pre-baked in the oven for ease of pealing and cubing
- shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked with using dried (saving the flavoured water)
- large can of organic diced tomatoes
I find that the butternut squash adds a delightful combination of bright orange colour, perfectly tender texture, and slightly tangy yet sweet flavour. A lovely mid-winter addition to soups, stews, and of course, tagines. Adding a little more sunshine into the making of this dish, I sip a glass of rosé wine from the south of France, Le Petit Chat Malin (the cunning little cat), as I prepare it.
The spices, however, are the true star of this dish. I use most of the suggested herbs and spices (about 1-2 teaspoons each), adding or exchanging a few:
- coconut oil, for sautéeing the onions, herbs and spices
- onion, finely chopped
- garlic, minced
- ginger, grated
- pinch of saffron threads
- ground cumin
- coriander powder
- cinnamon powder
- small cinnamon stick
- red Thai chili pepper
- finely shredded kelp
- sea salt & black pepper
- water from soaked shiitake mushrooms
- black sesame seeds, to garnish
- cilantro, to garnish
We enjoy my culinary creations with a glass of Shiraz red wine gifted for the occasion by my sufficiently impressed dinner companion (who had not yet until now experienced the Special Dish of the Week tradition, ever so lovingly captured in these postings).
Little dollops of Fancied Cottage Cheese with Flax Seed—which in this variation contain both blueberries and chopped pecans as well as a small clove of garlic and a touch of TLC topped with a whole pecan—round out this delicious meal, one that begins with a short guided meditation and interweaves with the timeless of poetry.