Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Squashy Dinner (And Why You Should Make Friends With Your Produce Guy!)

I love my produce guy and here's why: Almost every day I walk to the grocery store to get food for dinner. (The exception is for days when my knees either won't take me there or I'm sick. Or if I am just lazy.) I go there so often that a few of the employees there now know me pretty well, especially the guy who is in charge of the produce section, since I spend most of my shopping time in that department.

Like I have stated many times, I'm new to the world of cooking and also to the world of shopping for food properly. Luckily, Produce Guy is extremely helpful, often giving me advice on what is good that day and how to pick each specific vegetable or fruit.

Today it began with Squash.

This bad boy was hand picked by yours truly. To pick the perfect squash, you have to check the weight. They should weigh heavy compared to their size. This means there are lots of good meaty bits inside it.

Niki is excited about this squash business.

Along with this big squash baby, I'm adding yellow squash and zucchini.

To pick the best of these, you have to go for the small guys. The bigger zucchinis are overripe and turn out gooey and slimy when cooked. You don't want that. The thinner the better. 

To go along with my squash trio, I added carrots . . . 

Sweet potato

And Salmon.

Tesla says "Salmon! Yeah, baby!"

Dinner preparation began with chopping the veggies. And there's something satisfying about chopping vegetables. Anyone else notice that? I love it. It's relaxing. Hey, it's my thing, get over it.

The Big Daddy Squash was a fun one. It reminded me of cutting a pumpkin in half to make Pumpkin Cake. Once cut, I spooned out the seeds.

 To cook all these delicious veggies, I covered cooking sheets with foil, sprayed with olive oil and laid the Big Bad Squash faced down. Baby Squashes and sweet potato went on those sheets as well.


Don't forget to add a little salt and pepper!

Let me also note one of the coolest tools that we have in our kitchen: A Misto Olive Oil Sprayer. Fill with olive oil, pump the lid a few times and spray. I love this thing and I've seen it sold at Fred Meyer. If you buy one, you won't regret it!


Ok, back to the dinner. The carrots I put in a pan to saute, wanting them to get nice and browned. In this same pan I cooked up that salmon. Oh was that salmon beautiful! 


I would like to remind all of you Pacific Northwesterners how lucky you are to have delicious salmon at your fingertips. Do you realize what a luxury it is to be able to go to the grocery store and get perfect, amazing salmon? Do you? Travel anywhere in between the West Coast and the East Coast and you will realize how good you have it!


And for the cherry on top, I made a soy-maple glaze with fresh ginger. 


I used this glaze on the salmon and carrots, and also drizzled some on top of my Squash Giant. 


In the end, it got the thumbs up approval from Mitch. I enjoyed it, but think that the glaze needed to reduce for a bit longer - it was a bit too liquidy when I put it on the plate. Also, I realized I should have flipped the Big Daddy Squash over and added a bit of the glaze to it for it's last few minutes of cooking in order to get it to brown and crisp a bit. This is all stuff that I will remember to do next time. When it comes to cooking, I'm always learning. And staying positive! 

A dinner well done! 

And a preview for a post soon to come . . . 

PLANTAINS! Stay tuned!

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