Monday, January 28, 2008

Delicata Squash With Sautéed Greens, Pancetta And Honey Tangerine

When you've been driving all day, some of it under rather harrowing conditions, this is the perfect quick-to-fix meal to warm you up and calm you down when you arrive home. A glass of red wine helps. Of course I'm talking about me...

The first part of my 6-hour journey home yesterday was easy - a little rain, a little wind - then it began to snow. Big fat fluffy flakes falling slowly at first, just enough to marvel at, then falling faster and faster until before I knew it I was queued up behind a number of cars being led through the snowy whiteness by a highway patrol car, the road becoming too trecherous to allow for the errant fast driver yet not icy enough to require chains. All of this occurred on the 101 within 50 miles of my home - a very rare occurrence for my neck of the woods as I live on the northern California coast in a maritime temperate climate zone. Not used to driving through snow, especially without chains, you can imagine my relief at arriving home safe and sound, if a bit hungry.
Honey tangerines (also called Murcott oranges) are in markets right now and their sunny goodness is a welcome ingredient to the winter palate. Wonderful in vinaigrettes and simple sautés, honey tangerine juice will also brighten roasted meats and bring elegance to winter desserts. Last night it rounded out all the ingredients of this sauté and made them shine.

Delicata squash with Sautéed Greens, Pancetta and Honey Tangerine
Christine's original recipe
1 medium delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups mixture of winter greens, torn (see Cook's Notes)
1 and 1/2 ounces pancetta, cut into small squares
3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup honey tangerine juice, squeezed and strained from 1 tangerine
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil spray for the pan

Spray a heavy skillet with olive oil spray and set over medium high heat.
Add the pancetta to the hot pan and cook, stirring to break up the pieces, until crisp and browned. Remove to a plate.
Spray the same pan again and lower the heat to medium.
Add the cubes of squash and sauté until it softens and begins to brown.
Add the minced garlic and stir until the garlic has become softened and aromatic.
Toss in the torn greens. This is usually a mixture of winter greens: Chard in its many colors plus several kinds of kale, mustard greens and beet tops.
Stir everything together gently and allow the greens to wilt. A bit of additional olive oil may be needed to keep the squash from sticking to the pan.
Pour the honey tangerine juice over everything and stir well to combine.
When the greens are cooked to your liking, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Serve on warmed plates and sprinkle with the crispy pancetta.

Cook's Notes:
For this dish I tore the greens into smaller pieces so as not to overpower the small cubes of squash nor lose the pieces of pancetta among them.

Plus A Small Rant:
(Not too long ago, last week I believe, I came across a complaint on the Internet about long, descriptive recipe titles on food blog posts. I don't take this personally as I'm sure the person who wrote it doesn't know my blog exists, but it still prompts me share this small rant. I'm only sorry that I didn't bookmark where I read the complaint as I would have loved to share it with you.)
I know that I'm given to long recipe titles and obviously am among quite a group of others who do the same. And I guess that this drives at least one food blogger critic a bit nuts. Personally, besides liking to be more descriptive than less, I also like it that people searching the Web for recipes are more apt to land on one of my recipes if I use said descriptive titles. And, duh, that's what we want, isn't it? So get over yourself. These are blogs for crying out loud.

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