Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Creamy Yellow Squash Soup and Mini Spinach-Artichoke Salmon Sandwich

The boyfriend suggested yesterday that I should include more photos in my blog, perhaps even throw in photos of me cooking. I'm thinking that's not going to happen because I already have my hands full with a spatula and a bottle of pepper, all sweaty and very impatient, I don't need people seeing what I look like in the kitchen - they just need to see the results and pretty pictures.

Anyway, we've had this piece of smoked salmon sitting at the back of the box of feta in the far left corner of the refrigerator since the Pope visited. It was the product of our fortnightly milling about in Pike Place Market. We've always wanted to use it to make some yummy grilled panini, but it somehow never panini-ed out (*insert ding-dong cue*). So today my project was to clear out the fridge of leftover summer squash and of newspaper-wrapped smoked salmon.

This recipe uses ciabbata bread but you can subsitute it for focaccia or pain rustique or even Italian round. It combines a home-made spinach-artichoke blend with the subtle crisp taste of capers and delectable dill weed.

Creamy Yellow Squash Soup
(Serves 4, about 170cals per serving)

Prep time = 10 mins
Cook time = 30 mins

2.5 cups yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup baby carrots, half width-wise
1/4 cup onions
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder
3 cups low sodium vegetable or organic free-range low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup soy milk
Grated nutmeg (optional)
Parsley sprigs (optional)
Chopped walnuts (optional, 1 tsp for each serving)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot
2. Sautè onions until translucent. Add in squash and carrots, ginger, turmeric and curry powder, sautè another 7 mins until squash turns translucent
3. Add broth, bring to a simmer, add in thyme, Garam Masala, salt, pepper and parsley
4. Cover and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes until carrots are just tender
5. Turn heat off and let cool for 5 minutes before using an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup (if using a food processor, carefully pulse one cup at a time)
6. Return soup to pot on low heat, add in soy milk and stir
7. Serve with a dash of grated nutmeg, dash of pepper, walnuts and a parsley sprig

Mini Spinach-Artichoke and Salmon Sandwich

Serves 4 (about 270cals per serving)
Prep time = 15 mins
Cook time = 5 mins

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread , cut into 2 slices and separated into halves to yield 4 quarters
1.5 cups spinach leaves
1 cup canned artichoke hearts in brine
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp capers
3 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled (optional, I used it to make my sandwich, but omitted it for the boyfriend's)
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 cup smoked salmon, crumbled into little bits
1 tbsp dill

1. Combine all ingredients except feta cheese and onions and blend in food processor until chunky (see pictures).
2. Add in feta cheese and onions and combine in a bowl.
3. Spread a light layer of butter on the ciabatta and toast it lightly, follow the instructions on the packaging, but make sure the bread doesn't turn out too hard - usually 3 minutes in a 350° oven should do the trick.
4. Spoon spinach-artichoke mixture into the center of the bread. Stuff the smoked salmon into the center of the mixture, about 2.5 tbsp per person.
5. Place sandwich on plate, sprinkle with dried dill (about 1/4 tsp per person) and serve.

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