Derek always loves what he calls “harissa pasta“, so I figured I should try out the one other harissa recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. This recipe was originally called roasted delicata squash salad, but that’s pretty boring so I re-dubbed it with a more descriptive name. The recipe has some problems, primarily that the ratio of vegetables to sauce seems way off. It calls for a pretty small (3/4 pound) delicata squash, 1/2 pound of potatoes, and just 1.5 ounces of kale. We prepped all the veggies and then just stared at them, amazed at how little food it was. So we added another 1/2 pound of potatoes and some more squash, a total of about 1 pound 2.5 ounces before removing the seeds. The only other change we made was steaming the kale briefly, because our German kale was extremely tough and very unpleasant to eat raw. Also, my harissa isn’t the best so I added some cumin to it. The final dish was very rich and very tasty, with strong salty, acidic, umami, and spicy notes, but all in perfect balance. The squash even contributed some sweetness, so it was really hitting all six tastes.
The textural contrasts were also interesting. I liked the way the soft squash and potatoes juxtaposed with the slightly fibrous kale and the snappiness of the pepitas and radishes. Derek said the dish tasted like restaurant food — the ultimate compliment in his book. And indeed, I discovered how much it was like restaurant food when I did a calorie count. Wow. Derek and I easily downed the entire recipe for dinner, all 1455 calories of it. And I could have easily eaten more! (Yes, it’s somewhat addictive, just like restaurant food.)
We made the recipe again last week, but this time we used a larger (1.5 pound) delicata squash and a bit more kale and radishes. We also forgot to add the cumin this time. Finally, Derek missed the step where you withhold part of the dressing, and he poured all of it (except for the lemon juice) onto the veggies before roasting them. It was still very tasty, but not quite as intensely in-your-face as last time.
Next time I may try adding only some of the miso to the vegetables, and leaving some out with the lemon juice. When you make miso soup the instructions always warn you not to heat the miso too hot, as the heat kills off all the beneficial organisms. So it seems that roasting the vegetables with the miso might not be ideal technique-wise.
The original recipe calls for fingerling potatoes, but we never found any so just cut up regular white potatoes. Here’s our current version, with my idea about splitting the miso:
- 1 pound potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks (not peeled!)
- 1.5 pounds delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons (not peeled!)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white miso
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 ounces kale, de-stemmed, finely chopped, and lightly steamed (about 2.5 ounces after stemming but before steaming)
- 8 radishes, very thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 ounces pepitas, toasted
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, 2 Tbs. of the miso, and the harissa. Place the potatoes and squash in a large serving bowl with 1/3 cup of the miso-harissa oil. Use your hands to toss well, then turn everything out onto a baking sheet. Bake until everything is baked through and browned, about 25-30 minutes. Toss once or twice along the way after things start to brown a bit. Keep an eye on things though, you can go from browned to burned in a flash.
- In the meantime, pour the remaining miso-harissa oil into the large bowl and whisk in the lemon juice and remaining 2 Tbs. of miso. Taste, it should be intensely flavorful, but if yours is too spicy or salty, you can dilute it with a bit more olive oil or lemon juice.
- Lightly steam your kale if desired, then use the kale to get any remaining remnants of sauce out of the small bowl. Stir the kale into the leftover dressing in the large bowl and set aside. Toast your pepitas while you wait.
- Place the warm roasted vegetables in the serving bowl with the sauce and kale and toss with the the radishes and pepitas.
Makes 2-3 large dinner servings or 4-6 smaller servings. As written above the recipe has about 1620 calories (45% carbs, 9% protein, 46% fat). So serve it with something that has some protein. Maybe a Moroccan lentil soup or a chickpea salad as a starter?