Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Local Meal of the Week: Butternut Tostadas

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For this week's Dark Days Eat Local Challenge meal, I browsed through lots of squash recipes and settled on this simple, quick, delicious meal: butternut tostadas. I found it in The New Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery & Nutrition, by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Brian Ruppenthal. When I was being an at-home mom in the early to mid '90s, I loved this book for being so much more than just a book of recipes -- more like a trusted friend -- but I have less time to cook these days and haven't visited it much for quite a while. Silly me. It's still wonderful.

This recipe is credited, to my surprise, to the late artist Alan Gussow, whose wife, Joan, wrote a compelling book about their gardening lives that I have often quoted here: This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader.

Here's the recipe: You cut a butternut squash into quarters and scoop out the seeds. Put it with a little water into a covered glass dish and microwave for about 10 minutes, until flesh is soft (or steam in the conventional way for 20 minutes). Meanwhile, toast corn tortillas on a griddle until softly crisp. When the squash is tender, scrape the squash pulp off the skins and mash it. Heat a tablespoon of oil, add some chili powder, garlic and ground cumin, and stir-fry until the spices are fragrant. Add the squash and some oregano; stir and fry until the mixture is hot.

Spread some squash mixture onto a prepared tortilla; sprinkle with a little grated cheese; cover with shredded lettuce, and dot with salsa.

"Makes 4 rather unusual but very tasty tostadas," the book says. It certainly does! The combination of toasted corn/spiced squash/mellow cheese is a real winner.

My squash and lettuce were from the farmers' market; my tortillas are from down the road in Faribault (purchased at the co-op during the Eat Local Challenge in August, but tortillas seem to keep almost forever in the fridge or freezer); the cheese is from perhaps slightly more than 200 miles away (Crystal Farms is based in Lake Mills, WI), but I had it on hand; and the salsa was Minneapolis's own Salsa Lisa.

Addendum, 11/1: I should have noted above that Joan Dye Gussow is a noted local and organic food advocate and nutritionist; my description above doesn't do justice to her national stature.


Rob Hardy said...

Here's something I think will interest you: an article from today's Inside Higher Education about the use of local foods at Carleton College.

Penny said...

Thanks, Rob! It definitely interests me; I will post the link as a main blog entry.

Mary Schier said...

Penny: I tried a variation on this dish last night and it was wonderful. I used the squash (local)/spice mix as you recommended, but added a can of black beans (probably not local). The beans give the dish a bit more heft. The Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook has another variation on the idea using sweet potatoes. It's good, too.


Melinda said...

Wow, they look and sound fabulous. I think we'll have to try them!

Joey said...

Just used up my last butternut of the season to make this last night. Deee-licious! Thanks for the recipe.