Northern comfort in a skillet
By Christine Anisko
When it seems like winter may never end his cold and brutish reign, there is nothing like adding a little pizzazz to the old breakfast routine to lift your spirits. Properly roasting and seasoning each ingredient, along with creating good texture, takes an ordinary combination and gives it some punch. This recipe uses a spice blend called harissa seasoning, a Tunisian blend available in more markets these days. If you cannot find it, go ahead and play with sprinkling equal small parts of chile pepper, paprika, cumin and coriander on the squash. The blend usually includes an interesting tangy sumac flavor, so do try to find it if you are able. Let’s get through this last leg of winter by creating warm savory wafts from deep inside the kitchen, friends.
6 to 7 cups boiling water
1 medium squash - Waltham, butternut or buttercup
2-4 tablespoons neutral oil like grapeseed, avocado or olive
3/4 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons harissa seasoning
6 to 7 cups of kale
2 small cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 435 degrees.
Bring water to a rolling boil in a medium to large size pot. Cut the squash into ¾-inch squares. Blanche the squash* for about 2 and a half minutes on high heat, then transfer carefully to a colander using a strainer or slotted spoon. Do not pour water out. Rinse squash immediately with cold water and lay out on a cutting board and dry well with a paper towel. Next blanche the kale for about 2 minutes. Repeat the process, rinse kale with cold water, and dry thoroughly. Tip: I blanche other vegetables like parsnip, carrots, and rutabaga to roast and then save the liquid as a vegetable broth for soups.
Spread squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Season with salt, pepper and the harissa seasoning. Roast for about 8 minutes, then carefully use a spatula to toss and continue to brown. You can raise the oven to broil if you are not getting a good crunch. Remove when darkish brown and slightly crunchy.
On the stovetop, heat a cast iron pan on high heat until it smokes. Add oil, salt and pepper, and then kale. Sautee and cook the kale until it is lightly crispy, about 3-4 minutes. When nearly finished, add the garlic to the pan and sauté for about 45 seconds to a minute. Remove the kale from heat, check seasoning.
Add the roasted squash to the skillet, and top with your favorite style egg and toast. For a perfectly poached egg, heat about 3/4 of an inch of water in a small pot with a lid. When it is just about at a boil, add eggs, cover immediately, and put the temperature down to low. For large eggs, set a timer for 6 minutes. They steam to perfection and you get gooey yolks to make a delicious gravy for your veggies. Enjoy!
*I know! It is an extra step and you could skip it, but it does tenderize the squash and make the kale way less chewy in the end.