It’s nearing the end of the year which means that I only have a few more deliveries from my CSA and I’m starting to get sad when I think about not getting that box every Wednesday. But I’ll definitely be signing up for another year and, thankfully, I only have to wait about two months since they pick back up in March.
I started this blog several years ago to become a better cook and put more effort into developing healthy eating habits, but joining this CSA has really been the final kick in the pants I needed to make that happen. I’ve probably tried more new vegetables in just the last 6 months than in all of the last 10 years. It’s been great and has helped me to finally convert my inner picky eater into someone who will try anything at least once. There’s still quite a few things I don’t like (mushrooms…yuck) but at least I tried them and I’ve even found ways to hide the stuff I don’t like so it doesn’t go to waste (mushrooms always go into my favorite spaghetti sauce).
Squash is one of those things that I used to hate and completely avoided pretty much up until I was greeted with all of the yellow squash in my CSA boxes this summer. It’s still not my favorite vegetable but the more varieties of it I try, the more I like it. I was looking for recipes to use up a butternut squash and this one caught my eye because it combines all of my favorite things into one. First of all, it’s a soup and in the Fall and Winter I’m more than happy to eat soup every day of the week. Second, it has apples and you may have noticed I’ve been kind of obsessed with apples this fall. Finally, the squash and apples are roasted first and as I’ve said before, roasting make everything better.
All of those things combine into one really nice soup. Roasting the squash and apples with sage gives it a deeper, slightly smokey flavor and the apples add a subtle sweetness. It’s a very healthy soup so it’s great for lunch or a light dinner. Plus it’s dead easy to prepare. You just need to roast the squash and apples, puree and then stir in some broth. I think it may be the easiest soup I’ve ever made!
I like to eat most soups with some kind of bread and since this soup reminded me of a tomato soup, grilled cheese was the first thing that came to mind. I’ve been eating grilled cheese sandwiches forever and I always used those yellow squares of American cheese. I’m not gonna lie, I like that stuff but is it even cheese? My CSA has made me look at all food in a different way and eating super processed stuff like that makes me feel a little dirty now. So I came up with a new version of a grilled cheese that I didn’t have to feel bad about, I like to refer to it as a “grown-up” grilled cheese sandwich.
It all starts with the cheese. I just discovered smoked gouda cheese in the past year and now I like to put it on everything, so this grilled cheese has white cheddar and smoked gouda on it. Both of these cheeses are from the deli section of my grocery store so they’re more expensive than those yellow squares but I’ve learned there are some things you shouldn’t be cheap with and cheese is one of them. And if you have good cheese you also need fresh baked bread. I know I should make it myself, but the bakery in my grocery store already does a great job of it and I’m lazy, so store bought it is. I mix in a little rosemary with my butter and then spread it on the each slice of bread. You can use thyme or sage if you like them better but the herbs (even dried herbs) add nice flavor to the bread and I think rosemary pairs especially well with smoked gouda. It’s still a grilled cheese so it’s not complicated, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t class it up a bit!
Since the sandwich packs in a lot of flavor with the cheddar, gouda and rosemary, it’s a nice compliment to the roasted squash-apple soup with its more subtle flavors. The soup (which can be made with pumpkin, too) can be made ahead of time so it’s great to heat up for lunch or dinner. It would also make a great starter on Thanksgiving or to go along with those leftover turkey sandwiches the next day!
Roasted Butternut Squash-Apple Soup
adapted from The Simple Art of EatingWell
Soup | Servings: 6 (about 1 cup each)
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 50 min | Total time: 1 hour
This soup can also be made with pumpkin. Substitute the same amount of pie pumpkins (whole not canned) for the squash.
- 2 lbs. (about 1 large) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 large sweet-tart apples, such as Empire, Cameo or Braeburn, unpeeled, cored and cut into eighths
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp. dried sage
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Spread squash (or pumpkin) and apples on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and dried sage (if using). Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring after about 15 minutes. Stir in fresh sage (if using) and continue roasting until tender and starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer about a third of the squash and apples to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and process until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into a large dutch oven or pot. Repeat with the remaining squash and 2 cups of broth.
- Taste and add 1/8 to 1/2 tsp. of salt if necessary. Heat over medium-low, stirring regularly, for about 6 minutes or until heated through.
- Serve topped with a drizzle hazelnut oil and hazelnuts (if using).
Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week, reheat in the microwave or over medium heat.
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 180 calories
Fat: 9g fat
Rosemary, Cheddar and Gouda Grilled Cheese Sandwich
from Back to the Cutting Board
Sandwich, Lunch | Servings: 1
Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 5 min | Total time: 10 min
- 2 slices fresh Italian bread or Sourdough
- 1 tbsp. (.5 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary or 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary*
- 1 oz. white cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
- 1 oz. smoked gouda cheese, sliced thinly
- Pepper, to taste
*Feel to substitute your favorite herb, like thyme or sage.
- Put 1 tbsp. of butter in a small bowl and microwave for about 5-10 seconds or until it’s soft but not melted. Stir in rosemary and mix well. Spread the butter mixture on the outside of each slice of bread.
- Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt a small pat of butter (about a teaspoon or so) in the skillet.
- Place one slice of bread in the pan. Top with cheese and sprinkle with pepper. Place the other piece of bread on top. Cover the pan with a lid. If your skillet doesn’t have a lid, use a baking sheet or pizza pan. Just remember to use an oven mitt when picking it up again because it will get hot.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes. Gently flatten the sandwich with a spatula, flip over and cook, covered, for another 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and both sides are browned to your liking. Serve immediately.