Studies are proving that eating plant foods rich in colours of the rainbow—from dark blue and purple to green, yellow, orange, and red—is the key to good nutrition. Take butternut squash as an example. Its brilliant orange colour indicates it’s chock full of carotenoids, bioflavonoids, and vitamin C, essential to decreasing the risk for certain diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Line baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Peel butternut squash to bright orange flesh. Thinly shave top and bottom from squash and cut horizontally down middle to form 2 halves. Scoop out seeds and discard. Brush cut sides of squash with oil and place cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can almost pierce it with a paring knife.
While squash bakes, in small saucepan, heat rice vinegar. Pour into 1 cup (250 mL) heatproof glass jar, such as a canning jar, and stir in lime zest, syrup, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes, and salt.
Stir to dissolve salt. Stir in onion and press down to immerse slices in vinegar. Cover and set aside. Onion can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks.
After squash has been roasting for 15 minutes, remove from oven. On cutting board, place halves cut side down. Using very sharp knife, carefully cut 1/4 in (6 mm) wide slices crosswise into squash, being careful not to cut all the way through (see tip). Slide long spatula under sliced squash and return halves to baking sheet. Return to oven and continue to bake for 20 more minutes or until slices are completely tender but not falling apart.
Prepare Herbed Salsa while squash continues baking. In mini blender, combine herbs, oil, garlic, lime juice, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground. Add a splash of water for thinner mixture. Add pinch of salt, to taste, if you wish. Store in tightly covered container for up to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).
To serve, remove squash from oven and place onto heated serving platter. Spoon some pickled onions and salsa overtop. Top with crumbled goat cheese and splash with a little extra olive oil, if you wish.
This recipe is part of the Colour Your Menu collection.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.