Phew! I just had what had to be both the most healthy and yet most indulgent dinner tonight. It was a recipe of few ingredients but because the quality was so high, and the balance right, it was pretty intense.
But first, I did have to mention the success of last night's dinner, as even after tonight, it was the best in a long time. I have a CSA, and therefore a lot of veggies. And because it isn't spring yet, I'm getting a lot of onions. My friend Rebbecca suggested I make soup with all the soup ingredients, so I decided to try my hand at the french variety of soup.
Look! I was creative in using oven-proof bowls! My soup looked more normal. Justin's container, shown above, was bigger than the piece of toast. That's Gruyere all broiled on top.
Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Gruyere Toast
1 Pound yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
3 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or more. I was liberal in the definition of "sprig")
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon (or 2) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (we used sauvignion blanc)
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water
two slices of bread for toast - french or rustic, ciabatta if available
2 Tbls unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grater Swiss Gruyere cheese
In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to broil. Toast the bread.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into two ovenproof bowls, float the toasted bread on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyere. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.
Okay, and so for tonight. The preparation was way prettier than the resulting meal, so I took a picture of the before:
How sweet and healthy-looking is that? If you have butternut squash or a heck of a lot of shiitake mushrooms, try this recipe out. Also, you can find this really neat wide noodle at Whole Foods sometimes. If you can't find it, just use fettuccine.
Pappardelle with Squash, Mushrooms, and Spinach
12 oz pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes butternut squash (from 1-pound squash)
8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
1 1/2 Tbls chopped fresh sage
1 5- to 6-oz package baby spinach
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bit, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook until almost tender, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, and remaining 1/4 cup butter; saute until mushrooms are soft and squash is tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach; stir until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta to sauce in skillet. Toss to coat, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.