Dirt Rich Farm, a vegetable stand run by Ryan and Allison, is my very favorite stop at my local farmers market. Their produce is beautiful, fresh and grown with a passion that one can taste in every bite!
All season long, I lugged home cases of tomatoes to preserve, many pounds of basil to turn into pesto for use during winter, and of course always enough veggies to carry us through the week.
A couple of weeks ago, Ryan and Allison extended an invitation to a farm dinner they were hosting for friends and customers, who had helped make their very first year as growers, a success.
The day before the dinner I stopped by the market and picked up a colorful assortment of veggies. As I was chatting with Allison, she handed me a beautiful turban squash and gave it to me! Thank you Allison!
Sunday morning, while sitting on the couch sipping my coffee, I kept thinking about what kind of side dish to bring to the dinner. Originally I was going to make Missy’s coffee cake, but this gnarly, gorgeous turban squash kept staring at me!
Suddenly, it hit me: I could make my roasted “greek-style” ratatouille, and stuff this winter squash with those veggies!
When my husband saw the end result, all he could say was “Oh my Gourd”! 😉
Mid afternoon Sunday, we got into the car and headed to the farm. I was excited to find out where and how Ryan and Allison are growing their produce. Once we arrived, we parked, added our dinner contribution to the table and got a tour of the farm.
We learned how they made it all happen, from finding land to cultivate, to working together to get started, and now maintaining the growing cycle. There were rows of lettuces, beans, basil, tomatoes, kale, lots of parsley and cilantro, a greenhouse for seedlings, and a couple of small burritos keeping the grass down in the next field.
The land owner also has a green thumb, as evidenced by the huge flower garden she grows.
There were around 25 people in all, a couple of little dogs and of course the burros. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was a warm, sunny Indian summer kind of day!
There’s not much more one needs to enjoy a gathering: interesting people, great food, a glass of wine and a beautiful setting like the one we were at. I can honestly say, that this was one of the most delightful gatherings I’ve ever been to.
There are a couple of steps to make this dish. First roast the entire squash for about an hour. While the squash is roasting, cut all your vegetables into roughly the same bite size pieces and roast. Once those steps are finished, all you have to do is hollow out the squash and fill it. If you don’t eat cheese, just leave it out. There is plenty of flavor without it from the herbs, roasted garlic cloves, capers and olives. I made the same roasted vegetable dish and turned it into a lasagne, using “no boil” pasta. Delicious either way!
Here’s the recipe:
- red and yellow peppers, seeded and chopped
- a small zucchini or two, cut into bite size pieces
- a couple of small yellow summer squash, cut into small pieces
- lots of fresh tomatoes, chopped
- thinly sliced green onions (scallions)
- 1/2 cup of whole roasted garlic cloves (olive bars at the store have these)
- 1/4 cup capers, drained (again, any olive bar has these and you can buy only what you need)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup good quality black olives (I used pitted greek ones from the olive bar)1 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
- a tablespoon of herbs de Provence
- freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- a little sea salt
- red pepper flakes (I used a tablespoon)
- 1 large turban or other winter squash, or lasagna noodles
- some crumbled feta cheese, optional
- a sprinkle of grated mozzarella cheese, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Place the entire squash on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about an hour.
While the squash is baking, prepare the vegetables and put them into a large bowl.
Add the green onions, roasted garlic, capers, olives, herbs de Provence, lemon juice,
olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes.
Gently mix and place all the veggies onto a large rimmed baking sheet.
You want the vegetables to be crowded!
That way, they stay nice and juicy.
Take the squash out of the oven when the hour is up and let it cool.
Turn up the heat in the oven to 400°.
Roast the vegetables for about 40 minutes.
Take the baking sheet out of the oven and set aside.
Cut the top off the squash and hollow it out.
Save all the flesh for a soup ( I will post my recipe in the near future).
Fill the squash all the way to the top, and also addd the juice from the roasting pan.
Top with cheese if using.
Put the top on, and place the squash into a shallow dish or cast iron pan.
Bake for about an hour at 375°.
Remove from oven and let it rest before digging in!
This also tastes good at room temperature!
Here is the lasagna version. Same process, except using the pasta sheets.