Last Pick-up of Summer Shares: Musings

I was going to write about "all things sweet potatoes" but the end of the share season brings many subjects to mind, all going through my head at the same time. What to do with my produce? Is it time to move from salads to soups?

Today I am cooking many things in preparation for the weekend: roasting butternut squash to make a lasagna on Sunday, roasting spaghetti squash to freeze for a winter "mac and cheese", stewing the last eggplants to freeze for use in a sauce or a stew (depending on whether I feel like Italian or Greek seasonings), and in the crockpot for tonight's dinner is a chili? stew? thick soup? of red peppers, onion, delicata squash, black beans, tomatoes, a bit of ground beef, and fresh cilantro. The house smells are wonderful!

I'm convinced that squash, and by extension sweet potatoes, can be used in any dish. When we started having butternut squash available all winter I started collecting recipes using it in different ways. With black beans for burritos, with white sauce in lasagna, mashed or cubed in mac and cheese (with bits of kale or chard and fontina cheese), chunks in stews, cubed and roasted with sage, soups (of course, but I've never been much of a butternut soup person.) With spiralizers all the rage now, butternut squash "noodles" are available in grocery stores...and could be an option for the home cook.

Sweet potatoes are pretty much the same as butternut squash to me, especially this year with our versions from an alternative universe. No, we didn't plan to grow pumpkin-sized potatoes. Rather, a convergence of seed type, soil, sun and rain produced what have to be contest worthy sweet potatoes. This year, you CAN eat just one!

So what do you do with the potato-the-size-of-a-small-dog? You cube it, mash it, roast it, puree it, hide it in everything.  I never tire of a simple baked sweet potato, or alternatively a cubed and roasted version. Make fries, mix with black beans, combine with white potatoes in a mash, use it in a stew, mix with a grain. Spiralize!

I am always looking at restaurant menus, cooking magazines and web sites, blogs and the like to find new ways to use ingredients. If I've had a dish at a restaurant the first thing I think is "how can I make this at home?"  The second thing I think is "how can I what I have at home to change the recipe?"  The key is not to be afraid to experiment and make new combinations of flavors and textures. Tell us on Facebook what you've come up with so we can all find new dishes to prepare!