Monday, January 30, 2012

A Healthy Start - NYC, volume 1

My recent trip to New York City was in the company of two great friends. One had Broadway stars in her eyes, and the other, like me, just wanted to go. Our agenda was clear: HAVE FUN. I am glad to report that it was accomplished in so many ways.

Our first morning found us headed in the direction of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Magnificent. There is so much to see and absorb. We spent some time viewing Egyptian Art and then took a tour of Old Master Paintings from the 13th through the 18th centuries. The collections are amazing; the works are impressive; and the amount of time needed to fully appreciate everything displayed is unimaginable. We had to concede that there was only time and energy for a small portion of the exhibits. (A common phrase during this first trip to NYC for us all became, "Next time...") We wandered and gazed and admired and realized how much earlier generations provided for nearly every aspect of our modern lives. It was remarkable, and honestly wore me out.

Thankfully, we had started our morning with a great breakfast. While one friend was less than inspired by the use of bowls for beverages at Le Pain Quotidien, the food (and coffee) was incredible. An apple danish and porridge with fruit made appearances at our table, but I chose a Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Frittata. It was served with a lightly-dressed mixed green salad and a couple of slices of hearty bread. There was so much food on the plate, but it was beautiful and all delicious. So delicious that I, of course, immediately knew that the butternut squash stored away from my garden's harvest had a new purpose when I returned home.

My version of the Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Frittata begins with roasting small cubes of the squash in a hot oven with salt and pepper. Red onions and spinach are sauteed, then pulled from the pan as creamy beaten eggs are poured in. The tender and flavorful squash is dropped in along with bits of earthy goat's cheese (substitute feta or even cubes of cream cheese, if the goat's cheese flavor is too pungent for you). Finally, the wilted onions and spinach are added on top, almost as a garnish. I have baked this in a large skillet and cut into wedges to serve and also did individual gratin dishes. Either way, it is a fairly simple breakfast, lunch, or dinner for us, even when I don't have a marathon visit to The Met on the agenda.

(inspired by Le Pain Quotidien)

1-2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed into 1/2-3/4 inch dice
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
6-8 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
4-5 ounces crumbled goat's cheese (or feta or cubed cream cheese)

Preheat oven to 475F.
Toss cubed squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize.
Remove from the oven and set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 375F.
Meanwhile, saute the chopped onion in a little olive oil in a large, heavy skillet.
When the onion is translucent, add the chopped spinach and stir to wilt slightly.
Remove the onion and spinach to a plate and set aside.
Beat the eggs with the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour egg mixture into the skillet used for sauteing onions and spinach (may need to add a little oil to keep eggs from sticking).
Drop cubes of roasted squash randomly into the pan with the eggs.
Repeat with the crumbled goat's cheese.
Top the eggs with the onion and spinach mixture.
Place skillet in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until eggs are set.
To serve, slide frittata from pan and cut into wedges. (Serves 4-6)

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