A chef told me recently that his secret to plating food well is to stack the food, “the higher, the better!” I thought about this last night when I used some baked delicata squash as the base for a slow-cooked veggie-beef ragu (Italian meat sauce).
Other possibilities were slicing the delicata squash (did you know that the peel is perfectly edible?) crosswise or lengthwise and fanning out the slices like a flower on the plate and placing some ragu near the fanned-out squash, or scooping out the insides and mashing them and creating a mound of squash, and then serving the ragu on top. But I thought the “boat” idea was pretty steezy and that, my friend, is the sweet spot (especially at 5 pm on a weekday workday): stylish and easy.
Tips to boost the steez…
- Make the squash and the ragu the night before and just reheat and assemble.
- Make extra and freeze for a future meal.
Delicata Squash “Boats”
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice delicata squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (I use a grapefruit spoon) and set aside to roast, if desired.
Pour homemade stock into a baking dish and place the squash halves, cut side down on the dish.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Optional: grated Asiago cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
Bell Pepper and Beef Ragu:
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef, frozen – substitute lean ground turkey or another protein
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock – homemade, storebought, or vegetarian stock
- 12 garlic cloves, minced (my kids were playing with a garlic press and helped out with this part)
- 1 Tbsp Santa Maria spice blend – www.scottsfoodproducts.com – I get mine at our local A.J.’s Fine Foods
- 1 bag frozen bell pepper strips – I used the Melange a Trois from Trader Joe’s
- 1 cup chopped, frozen spinach (you could use more if you want)
Add the first four ingredients to the slow cooker. Set to low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. (If the ground beef is already thawed and not frozen, then reduce the cooking time.)
Use a meat thermometer to check that the beef mixture reached 160 degrees.
Add the veggies and let it cook for another hour.
Serve. Or, chill quickly and refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.
This meal scores points for being high in protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.