Caramelized Butternut Squash
2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off and discard the ends of each butternut squash. Peel the squash, cut them in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.
Stuffed Mallow Leaves
1 cup short or medium-grain rice
1/2 onion, minced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, minced
1/3 cup pesto
3 tablespoons olive oil
Grape or mallow leaves
Get a large frying pan hot over high heat. Add the mushrooms and shake the pan often until they release their water. When most of the water is gone, add the onion and the olive oil and a little salt. Toss to combine.
Saute this over high heat until the onion begins to color, then add the rice. Toss to combine. Toast for a minute, then add 1 cup of water and a little salt. Turn the heat to medium and let the water cook away. When it is absorbed, turn off the heat and let the rice cool.
Add the pesto and toss to combine. You can add a little olive oil if you have a dryish pesto.
Grape and mallow leaves come in different sizes, so adjust the amount of filling as needed when you fill them. It should always be about a tablespoon, though.
Line up your dolmas seam side down on a perforated vegetable steam insert, Chinese steamer or even on the bottom of a pan. Nestle them in snug against each other, and it is OK to stack them up to three levels high.
Mallow leaves don’t need to be weighed down, but grape leaves benefit from it. Lay a plate over the dolmas when you put them in to the pot you are about to steam them in. I use a large stockpot.
Put in enough water to come up just under the level of the dolmas, cover and bring to a boil. Steam gently for 40 minutes to an hour — why the difference? Depends on how fresh your rice is, and how much water it soaked up initially. Better to err on the long side than the short, as no one likes crunchy rice. Serve warm or at room temperature. Dolmas will keep for a week in the fridge.
To fold the dolmas, you lay the leaf smooth side down, bottom facing you. Put about a tablespoon of filling in a little log alongside the bottom, stretching from side to side toward the leaf edges. Leave at least a half-inch of space on either edge. Fold up from the bottom once, then fold over the sides and roll up. It takes some practice, as you will learn how much tension you can put on the dolma before the leaf rips.