Keep warm this week with butternut squash soup

Five ingredients is all it takes for this flavourful and creamy butternut squash soup.

e56df572cc3e3dc20850dd141c9602b9 Keep warm this week with butternut squash soup

Louisa Clements / LivingLou.com

5 ingredient butternut squash soup

Five ingredients is all it takes for this flavourful and creamy butternut squash soup.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 27 minutes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

1 butternut squash peeled and cubed, about 7 cups

6 cups water

1 tsp salt

Optional to serve:

Drizzle of 35% cream for serving Pepitas

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add butter and onion, cook for 6 minutes until onions are slightly browned. Add squash and cook for another 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Squash and onions should smell very sweet and fragrant. Add water and salt.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender or a blender, puree soup. Serve with a drizzle of cream and pumpkin seeds.

For more vegetarian recipes, visit LivingLou.com/vegetarian

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Basmati rice makes Greek Style Rice Pilaf special

5906e35823b7aea9941d478248813d7d Basmati rice makes Greek Style Rice Pilaf special

This photo shows a Greek-style rice pilaf served with chicken in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Sara Moulton. (Sara Moulton via AP)

With the exception of ooey-gooey potato concoctions, side dishes rarely get any respect. Most of us devote our love and attention to the protein in the

centre
of the plate and then throw together some kind of vegetable and/or starch as an afterthought. Here, however, is a pilaf fully capable of stealing the limelight from the usual star of the show.

It’s basmati rice that makes Greek Style Rice Pilaf so special. An especially aromatic grain used for centuries in India and Pakistan, basmati doesn’t usually show up in a Greek-styled pilaf. But I prefer its naturally nutty taste to the blandness of the usual varieties of long-grain rice. (There’s a reason that basmati means fragrant in Hindi.) The seasonings, of course, are also key: sauteed spinach spiked with red pepper flakes, feta cheese, olives and dill.

To make sure the cooked grains ended up separate and fluffy — and to wash away excess starch — I started by rinsing the rice. This requires covering the rice in several inches of cold water, stirring it in a circular motion several times, dumping off the water and starting again with fresh water. Repeat this process as often as it takes for the water to become almost clear.

Cooking rice also requires some care. It needs to be tightly sealed and cooked at a bare simmer to achieve the right texture. Place a wet paper towel under the lid to ensure that no liquid can escape. Waiting 10 minutes after it’s cooked before fluffing it up allows all the moisture to be absorbed.

If you’re no fan of feta, just swap in ricotta salata, a kind of aged ricotta. You’re also welcome to lose the dill in

favour
of oregano, basil or mint. And if you don’t like olives, just leave them out. Finally, if you’d prefer a vegetarian version of this dish, reach for vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Born as a side dish, Greek Style Rice Pilaf easily converts to main-dish status. Just top it off with a little sauteed shrimp or chicken and call it a meal.

Greek Style Rice Pilaf

Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

Servings: 6

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear and drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 ounces finely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1 ounce chopped Mediterranean olives (heaping 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

In a medium saucepan cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and garlic; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low, adjusting the temperature to make sure that the broth maintains a bare simmer, cover the top of the pot with a wet paper towel and a tight-fitting lid and cook, without stirring, for 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

While the rice is simmering, cook the spinach. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil over high heat, add half the spinach and cook, stirring until it is wilted, add half the pepper flakes, stir and transfer the spinach to a bowl. Repeat the procedure with the remaining oil, spinach and pepper flakes and set aside.

When the rice is done and has rested for 10 minutes, add the feta, olives and dill and, using a fork, fluff the rice to separate the grains. Serve right away.

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Nutrition information per serving: 259 calories; 110 calories from fat; 12 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 8 mg cholesterol; 211 mg sodium; 30 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 6 g protein.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Sara Moulton is host of public television’s "Sara’s Weeknight Meals." She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including "Cooking Live." Her latest cookbook is "HomeCooking 101."

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Popular Middle Eastern dish mujaddara made with brown rice

Did you make this meal? Show us on Instagram and Twitter by tagging it #metrocookswithlou.

7cefe8d7868f699511b186a6b4ee4308 Popular Middle Eastern dish mujaddara made with brown rice

Louisa Clements / LivingLou.com

Brown rice mujaddara

A take on the popular Middle Eastern dish mujaddara, made with brown rice, lentils and onions.

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion

sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup brown rice

1 cup green lentils

1/2 tsp salt

3 1/4 cups water

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat, saute onion for 8-10 minutes.

2. Add garlic, cumin and cinnamon. Cook another minute. Add brown rice and lentils, cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add salt and 3 1/4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes or until rice and lentils are fully cooked and water has been absorbed.

For more simple side dish ideas, visit livinglou.com/sides. Did you make this meal? Show us on Instagram and Twitter by tagging it #metrocookswithlou.

Related

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    One-Pan Chicken with Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

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Christmas Eve the Italian way means fish, fish and more fish

1af197a6939eabcd5e756e6207fb3f8b Christmas Eve the Italian way means fish, fish and more fish

This Nov. 8, 2017 photo provided by The Culinary Institute of America shows a seven fishes sauce served over pasta in Hyde Park, N.Y. This dish is from a recipe by the CIA. (Phil Mansfield/The Culinary Institute of America via AP)

For a holiday so widely celebrated, the traditions surrounding Christmas are as unique as the ornaments that decorate your tree. From decor, songs, stories and gifts, Christmas looks a little bit different in every home across the world, but of course, here at The Culinary Institute of America, we’re especially interested in what’s on the table.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American tradition to ring in Christmas Eve, when Roman Catholics celebrate the midnight birth of Jesus, known in Italian as "La Viglia." Fish is a traditional ingredient in the Christmas Eve dinner because custom calls for the eschewing of red meat leading up to the holiday.

Though today the feast is commonly referred to as the "seven fishes," the origin of that number is unclear, and in fact, many Italian and American homes may serve upwards of 10 dishes to celebrate the feast. Recipes vary from region to region, but common ingredients can include salted cod, calamari, shellfish, and shrimp, which may be stewed, fried, sauteed, or even served raw. Of course, you’re likely to find a pasta dish in the mix.

This can lead to a long day in the kitchen, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you want to celebrate Christmas Eve the Italian way, try this quick and easy Seven Fishes Sauce recipe.

This simple sauce is a traditional mix of aromatic ingredients, white wine, and fish broth that will lightly coat the fish(es) and pasta. For our main ingredients, we’ve chosen the seafood heavy hitters: crab, shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, scallops, and white fish. You can serve the shellfish in their shells for a dramatic presentation, or serve them shucked for a more user-friendly experience.

Depending on where you live, your fish markets may be buzzing in anticipation of the holiday, but don’t be tempted to secure your catch too early. Your ingredients should be as fresh as possible, kept cold and over ice, if your refrigerator is especially crowded. Make sure you give your clams and mussels some breathing room if they came packed in plastic.

While we’ve added it to the Christmas Eve menu, you can use this recipe as a base for weeknight dinners all year long. Add Thai-style aromatics to the broth, like ginger and lemon grass, and a squeeze of lime juice for a Tom Yum-style broth. Or, during the summer, add chopped fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and some hot chilis for a Latin flair.

We like serving this sauce over pasta (because everything is better with pasta), but you will also love it over creamy polenta, roasted vegetables or potatoes, or steamed rice. You can even serve it on its own, alongside some crusty bread for dipping.

Depending on how you serve it, this can be a decadent first course or satisfying entrée, but we think however you fill your table, your guests will be lucky to share a buon Natale with you and your loved ones.

SEVEN FISH SAUCE

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 30 minutes

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 anchovy fillets (optional)

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 cups clam broth

2 cups fish stock

12 shrimp (21/25 count), heads and tails on, if desired

1/4 pound of squid, tubes and tentacles, tubes sliced into 1/4-inch rings

1 1/2 pound small clams

1 lb mussels, debearded and scrubbed

1/2 pound bay scallops

1 pound king crab leg, cracked into 6 portions (or 1/4 pound lump crab meat)

1/4 pound white flesh fish, such as haddock, cod, or halibut

1/2 cup diced Roma tomatoes

1 lb linguine, cooked, for serving

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Sliced pickled peppers, for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies, if using. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook until it reduces by about half, about 5 minutes.

Add clam broth and fish stock and bring to a light simmer.

Add the shrimp, squid, clams, mussels, and scallops and slowly poach until the fishes become firm and the mussels open, about 5 minutes.

Add the crab, white fish, and tomatoes and cook gently, lowering the heat as needed to maintain a simmer, until firm, about 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook the fish, or it will flake apart when served.

Remove from the heat and ladle into serving dishes over the pasta. Garnish with parsley and peppers, if using, and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

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Nutrition information per serving: 624 calories; 81 calories from fat; 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 1637 mg sodium; 69 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 59 g protein.

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This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

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1 year in prison: Fast food worker put body fluids on burger

COLUMBUS, Miss. — A former fast food worker in Mississippi has been sentenced to a year in prison for wiping bodily fluids onto food she served a customer.

The Commercial Dispatch reports that 19-year-old Sky Samuel pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating a state law that prohibits serving "unwholesome bread or drink."

The crime is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison.

Columbus police arrested Samuel Jan. 23 after another employee at Jack’s restaurant accused her of smearing fluids, including saliva, onto a hamburger served to a drive-thru customer Jan. 7.

The customer was a woman from Tupelo, Mississippi.

Jack’s is a restaurant chain based in Homewood, Alabama. It issued a statement in January saying it was

co-operating
with the police investigation.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com

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