Thursday, November 2, 2017

Baked Acorn Squash Falafel with Almond-Milk Yogurt

When I receive acorn squash from my CSA, it takes me a few days to decide how to use them. My first inclination is always to roast and stuff the halves. But, a recipe in the September issue of Food and Wine gave me a delicious new idea that will work great for all types of winter squash. Baked squash falafel uses mashed, roasted squash in place of chickpeas, but chickpea flour is used to bind the mixture. The star ingredient here was the winter squash, and I get excited to use what’s fresh and in season from our local farms. But, for a recipe like this, it couldn’t have come together without a trip to the grocery store as well. Do you have strong feelings about grocery stores? I’m lucky to have great options for grocery shopping in Austin, and I’ve seen lots of changes to the grocery shopping scene here over the last couple of decades. What got me thinking about that is the new book Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman of which I received a review copy. The book is a broad reflection on grocery shopping and how it has evolved from its beginning, but it’s also a look at what customers expect from grocery stores and how that changes with trends that come and go. I admit to feeling a little hometown pride in reading about the history of Whole Foods Market and how they were able to change the landscape of organic foods and what was available. They were able to buy enough from farmers for them to feel comfortable making the switch to organic, and they were able to convince beef suppliers to raise cows with no hormones or antibiotics. Because of asking for these kinds of products and having enough stores to sell high enough quantities, the market changed. Now, all grocery stores can carry organic versions of every type of food because more is being produced all across the country. My current wish is that this interest in organic supply would reach further into wine production. Another interesting, but unsettling to me, change in grocery shopping noted in the book is the rising demand for prepared foods. I find it sad to see this happen as more and more people place less priority on cooking for themselves. Ruhlman explains the details of how stores make these changes to what they offer and the challenges they face. As usual, his writing is full of insight and wit, and his personal experiences add to story being told. I might be one of the pickiest or most demanding grocery shoppers out there, but I do appreciate being able to find black and white sesame seeds along with chickpea flour, coconut oil, and almond milk yogurt, all preferably organic, all in one place. I definitely couldn’t have found all those things in one store if at all back when I first moved to Austin. 

To make these squash falafel, first the acorn squash was halved, cleaned of seeds, and roasted until tender. The flesh was scraped from the skins and mashed in a mixing bowl. Chickpea flour, chopped parsley and cilantro, minced garlic, ground cumin and cayenne, and lemon juice were added. The mixture was shaped into little balls that were rolled in the black and white sesame seeds before being placed on a baking sheet with melted coconut oil. The balls were rolled in the oil on the sheet pan and were baked for 20 minutes. They were turned halfway through baking, and the turning flattened the shape a bit. Almond milk yogurt was mixed with chopped mint and a little more lemon juice. 

I liked that with almond milk yogurt, this was a vegan meal. The herbs and spices flavored the mashed squash well, and the sesame seeds gave the falafel nice crunch. I garnished them with some pomegranate seeds that came from my own dwarf shrub. I love walking outside and harvesting edible things in my own yard and bringing home all the seasonal goodies from our area farms. But, I do hope our grocery stores continue to offer all the other stuff demanding shoppers like me want to cook with too.

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  1. I love falafel and can't get enough of all different kinds of squashes and pumpkins...this is a perfect treat for me, Lisa.

  2. I love the idea of using squash in falafel which I like very much. I am also very lucky living here in Santa Cruz with some very special local grocery stores. I don’t know what I do without them.

  3. i actually have chickpea flour and until now had no idea what to do with it! this sounds AWESOME.

  4. These look splendid Lisa. Sounds like a very insightful book. Organic is here but it's still quite costly whereas it is much better value in other countries. Hopefully that will change.

  5. My first instinct with acorn squash is to stuff them, too. A great way to eat them! But this is better -- really creative dish. Thanks!

  6. This is a really creative way to use acorn squash. How lovely to be able to contribute some ingredients from your own backyard. I think the two colours of seeds present the dish beautifully xx


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