Shrimp and Kale Over Kabocha Squash Purée

IMG_4733This post is long overdue. I made dish, took the photos, and polished it off for lunch, ohhhh, about month and a half ago. I wasn’t planning on procrastinating about posting it, but spring happened. You know, those glorious few weeks in between nasty late-winter bleakness and disgusting East Coast summer humidity, when it’s actually nice to do things outdoors? When that sort of weather finally rolls around, everything else takes a back seat to being outside and working in the garden. TV doesn’t get watched. Papers don’t get graded. Blogs don’t get updated. Also, it got so warm that I almost didn’t post this dish because it seemed too unseasonal, but the relentless chilly drizzle this week has taken care of that.

So, this was a creation thrown together out of laziness. It was a Sunday night, and I didn’t have anything to take for lunch on Monday. Being a teacher, this meant that I needed to pack my lunch. Because no, I just can’t bring myself to go purchase a school cafeteria meal. I kind of like having to bring a lunch to work every day since it does make it easier to be healthy, but it kind of blows when you really just wish you could go out somewhere and buy something if you don’t feel like cooking.

So, back to that Sunday night. I needed to make my lunch and I really didn’t feel like going to the grocery store. I found some raw shrimp in the freezer, had a whole kabocha squash hanging out in the pantry, and lucky me, there was a bunch of kale in the garden that I had accidentally over-wintered, and it was just waiting to be picked because it was going to seed. It was actually the same stuff I made the frittata with back in December; I never got around to pulling it out of the ground, and it just starting growing again earlier this spring.

I decided to make a one-dish meal and start with a purée from the kabocha, keep the kale pretty simple with onion and garlic, and go spicy with the shrimp to balance out sweetness from the squash. For a weekday lunch, this is ideal for me. I’m pretty happy if I can make something that will last for a few days, can hang out in the fridge without getting soggy or wilty, and won’t require any more prep / chopping / assembly in the morning or during my precious 30 minutes of lunch. And I maybe get a little OCD about putting individual servings in tupperwares. And using matching tupperwares.



Shrimp and Kale Over Kabocha Squash Purée

makes 3 servings

For the kabocha purée:

  • 1/2 medium kabocha squash (about 1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. half-and-half
  • 2 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Scoop the seeds out of the kabocha, cut into pieces, brush with the melted butter, and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  3. Bake until tender, 25-30 minutes. It’s done when you can pierce it easily with a fork.
  4. Let it rest until it’s cool enough to handle, and then scoop the flesh from the shell and purée it in a food processor with the half-and-half, broth, and smoked paprika until smooth. Season to taste.

For the kale:

  • 8 cups (about 8 oz.) kale—I used Red Russian
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced crosswise
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat,
  2. Add the onion and sauté 6-7 minutes, or until starting to brown.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and sauté for another 6-7 minutes, until completely soft.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so.
  5. Add the kale in handfuls, stirring between each one. Keep adding kale and stirring until it’s all wilted. Season to taste.

For the shrimp:

  • 12 oz. medium shrimp, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  1. Pat the shrimp dry. Combine the salt and all of the spices, and rub it evenly over the shrimp.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and sauté until just barely cooked through.
  3. Serve the shrimp over top of the kale and the squash purée. It tastes best all mixed together.

(Mostly) Egg White (Sort of) Frittata

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I did not make this (sort of) frittata from (mostly) egg whites because I wanted it to be healthier and threw away all the yolks. (That will happen after I enjoy holiday food.) No, it has mostly egg whites because I had a ton of them leftover after making lemon curd, pastry cream, and tart crusts. Why the glut of decadent desserts? Well, I’m not above bribing my students, so every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I give them raffle tickets when they participate, and then we have a drawing for prizes on the last day of class before winter break. This year, tartlets, eclairs, madeleines, and—the most prized possession of all—homework passes were in the mix.

After the frenzy of baking, I made a mental note to collect money from my classes next year and buy treats from a local bakery in order to maintain my sanity. And then I tried to figure out what to make with the 7 egg whites and 1 whole egg (it didn’t want to separate nicely) that I had. Anything sweet was out of the question because I was on a sugar overload after all those bowls and beaters that I had licked, so a frittata seemed like the best way to go. And, as the title says, it’s not really a “frittata” because it’s cooked entirely in the oven and not at all on the stovetop. I supposed you could call it a “crustless quiche,” but “crustless quiche” makes me feel the same way a lot of people do when they hear the word “moist,” so I’d prefer to misname it a frittata. Also, it’s cooked in a cast iron pan, which is not nearly dainty enough for anything that calls itself a quiche.

I make frittatas pretty frequently; I usually use whole eggs and keep it vegetarian. I was afraid that the egg whites would make it bland, though, so I fancied it up a little more than I usually would. First, I found some Trader Joe’s chicken breakfast sausage links in the freezer, so I browned up a couple of them to add. Next, I harvested all the kale in the garden that’s threatening to die every time a frost comes around. It’s Red Russian kale, which supposed to be very cold tolerant, but it looked like it might be on its last leg.

I like my frittatas with a lot—and I do mean a lot—of vegetables. Even though my pile of kale was overflowing the salad spinner, it barely weighed 8 ounces, so I decided to use all of it.

Next, I usually just toss in some raw onion, but I caramelized half of a yellow onion instead. Finally, for the cheese, we had provolone but, oddly enough, it was a really nice provolone that was quite strong, and I found it to be almost overwhelming. So, I used just a bit of it and added some mozzarella for gooeyness and to let the other flavors come through.

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Note: I was double-checking the size of the skillet I used, and it says 5 on it, but it was about 7″ in diameter. And so I learned that the numbers on cast iron skillets correspond to certain standard pan sizes, not the actual diameter in inches of the pan.

You could make this in the same size pan with 4 whole eggs instead of egg whites. Also, my 8 oz. of kale didn’t need to be de-stemmed. If you have to de-stem your greens, you might want to start out with more than 8 oz., or just weigh them after you stem them instead of before. For the sausage,  I used 2 links of  breakfast sausage, and they weighed about 2 1/2 oz. before I cooked them. Lastly, this frittata reheats nicely in the microwave and will keep well for a day, but after much longer than that, the cheese will start to take on an unpleasant texture.


(Mostly) Egg White (Sort of) Frittata

serves 2-3

  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. kale or other cooking greens
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 7 egg whites and 1 whole egg
  • 2-3 oz. sausage, cooked and then cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 oz. provolone or mozzarella, or a combination of both
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Add 1 tsp. of the olive oil to a #5 (6.75″) cast iron skillet, and put it in the oven to warm up while you prep everything else.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. When it’s warm, add the minced garlic and stir until just fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add a handful of the greens and a couple of healthy pinches of kosher salt and stir until the greens start to wilt. Keep adding greens by the handful until they’re all in the pot and are completely wilted. Remove from heat and let cool. This will happen faster if you put them in a different bowl instead of leaving them in the pot.
  3. While the greens are cooling, caramelize the onion. First, heat 1 more tsp. of the olive oil with the 1 tsp. of butter in a small pan over over medium-high heat. Slice the onion thinly crosswise. When the pan is hot, add the onion and a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and keep cooking, stirring regularly, until well-browned, about 10-15 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  4. Dice the cheese into 1/4″ to 1/3″ cubes. You could grate it, but I like how it doesn’t disappear into the frittata if you leave it chunkier.
  5. By this time, your greens should be cool. Squeeze them out as much as you can. Seriously, put some muscle into it and get them as dry as you can; otherwise, it while make your eggs gross and watery. Chop up the squeezed-out greens.
  6. Whisk the egg whites and egg in a medium bowl. Add the sausage, greens, onion, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, but keep in mind that you’ve already salted the greens and the onion, and that the sausage has salt too.
  7. Use an oven mitt ! to remove your hot cast-iron skillet from the oven. The oil should be nice and shimmery. Swirl the oil around or use a spatula spread it out until it evenly coats the bottom of the pan, and then add the egg mixture and smooth the top. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the eggs are done.
  8. Remove from the oven and run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen up the frittata a little. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then use the rubber spatula to slide the whole thing out of the pan. Enjoy immediately, or wait until it cools completely and then refrigerate it for later.