Monday, October 31, 2011

A (Kind of) Spooky Halloween Meal

This Halloween, I was not really in the dress-up spirit. I normally come up with an original idea for a costume, but for some reason, this was not my year for good costume ideas. The impromptu snowstorm on Saturday didn't help matters. Instead of coming up with some half baked idea, I decided to channel my creativity into creating a Halloween themed meal. I decided on roasted and mashed butternut squash, crispy purple kale chips, and stuffed calamari with blueberry sauce.

I sliced open the butternut squash into quarters and scooped out the seeds. I coated the quarters in olive oil, salt, and pepper, covered the dish with aluminum foil, and put it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes until it was soft.

I then scraped out all of the squash from the skin and mashed it in a pot with some chicken stock to thin out the texture.

For the kale chips, I ripped the leaves from the stem and then massaged them with olive oil. I sprinkled the oiled leaves with some salt and pepper, and laid them in one layer on a baking sheet. I baked the kale for 10 minutes at 375 until the leaves were crisp.

For the blueberry sauce, I cut up half of an onion and put it in a sauce pan a little olive oil and about a cup of fresh blueberries. I then added salt and pepper and some honey for sweetness. I cooked this down until the blueberries had broken up.

Once the sauce was bubbling and fragrant, I pureed it in a blender and set aside.

For the calamari, I first made the stuffing. I cooked an orange pepper, green onion, sweet italian sausage (meat pulled from the casing), and some garlic until the onions and peppers were soft and the sausage was cooked through. I added some shrimp, cooked until they were pink, and cut the shrimp up before mixing it in with the rest of the stuffing. I tossed in some cilantro, and set aside to cool before filling the calamari.

To prep the calamari tubes, I dried them with paper towel and salt and peppered the outside. I then filled each one, pushing as much stuffing as I could into the tubes.

The toughest part of stuffing the calamari was getting the first bit in. The squid is pretty slippery and difficult to handle when trying to keep the opening open. Once you get the first bit of stuffing in, the tube is easier to handle.

Once the tubes were all stuffed, I heated olive oil in a pan and cooked the squid for about 2 minutes on each side. Calamari cooks very quickly, so you want the pan to be hot so that it can brown quickly before the meat gets rubbery.

Once the calamari was done, I served 2 for me and 2 for my girlfriend on the orange squash mash. I then spooned the blueberry sauce on top and placed the crispy kale alongside.

The dish was ghoulishly delicious. The sweetness of the squash and blueberries balanced the saltiness of the calamari, and the kale provided a ghastly change in texture. The menu was original, and so tasty it was criminal. As you can see, my girlfriend and I left no evidence at the scene of the meal.

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