I am not sure how far this term spreads throughout the world, but in the South, we refer to a large meal midday as “dinner.” Growing up, my Granny always cooked Sunday dinner, we never had lunch. Lunch was reserved for sandwiches and chips on Saturday, but Sunday meant going to church then eating dinner out or at her house.
As you can imagine, a Sunday dinner at her house included most of the typical Southern food groups: any meat fried or coated in sauce/gravy, any vegetable cooked in bacon fat, and some sort of potato dripping with butter. With just my daughter and me, I rarely cook on Sundays after church. We usually revert to a snacky lunch from the fridge.
Well, today, I cooked my first Sunday dinner. No, there was no meat or bacon grease included, but honey, it was good! After uncovering the broccoli rappini yesterday and finding it ready to eat, I couldn’t resist cooking a contemporary (and healthier) version of a Southern Sunday dinner.
Sunday Dinner at Growing Grace Farm (vegetarian and gluten-free)
Sauteed cannelini beans with onion
Scalloped butternut squash
Wilted rapini with garlic and sugar-salt walnuts (rapini grows well in the autumn/winter and is a member of the broccoli family; its leaves have a peppery flavor and the broccoli is more tender and sweeter in flavor)
Iced green tea with candied ginger
Cannelini beans (2 servings): 1 can of beans (or other bean of choice–my daughter also likes black eyed peas), olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, pepper
Scalloped butternut squash (4 servings): 1/2 of a butternut squash, veggie stock (or chicken stock if not vegetarian), 1 cup nonfat half and half, 2 pats of butter, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided), cornstarch, nutmeg, minced garlic, sea salt
Rapini (2 servings): 2 cups raw loosely chopped rapini (or other kind of green or broccoli), olive oil, minced garlic, sea
salt, sugar-salt walnuts (see here for recipe)
Begin with butternut squash. I actually made it the night before as sitting overnight only enhances the flavor. Cut the squash in half through the middle, separating the seed section (rounded area) from the non-seeded flesh (longer area). Peel the non-seeded area. Using a mandoline, slice thin round slices of squash and place in shallow water in a saute pan. Steam until squash begins to soften then remove from heat.
While squash is cooling, prepare sauce by melting butter in a sauce pan. Pour in the nonfat half and half. Add nutmeg, the minced garlic, and sea salt to taste (I go light on the nutmeg but enough to add a bit of flavor). Stir and heat, adding a tsp of cornstarch at a time until sauce begins to thicken. Should it get too thick too quickly, add veggie broth rather than more cream. Add 1/4 cup of the shredded parmesan before taking sauce of the burner.
Spray a glass pan with cooking spray or coat with thin layer of olive oil. Place a layer of butternut squash down in pan and pour a bit of the sauce over it. Place a layer on top then pour a thin layer of sauce. Alternate squash and sauce with sauce last. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top and cover with aluminum foil. Cook on 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes.
After letting squash cook 10 minutes in oven, heat olive oil in two pans on medium heat. In one pan add minced garlic and in the other add minced garlic and finely chopped onion (I use a half of a medium sized sweet onion or 4 small green onions). Saute garlic and onion until each are translucent.
To the onions, add the rinsed cannelini beans and some sea salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low so beans warm but do not dry out.
The pan with the sauteed garlic for the rapini should be turned off. The worst thing you can do with greens is to overcook them–you want the heat to help them release a nice bright spring green, not turn into dark, brownish green. Place the rapini in the pan, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and stir until all leaves are wilted.
Leave beans and rapini in their respective pans but not on the burners. Remove the scalloped butternut squash. Serve the beans and rapini first, giving the squash time to “rest.” Sprinkle the rapini with some sugar-salt walnuts. Spoon a serving of squash.
Today, I happened to serve my tea in a Mason jar, and my daughter glanced over and noted that regardless of how “modern” my Sunday dinner was, I was still a Southern girl at heart. Well, she may be right, but I noticed she cleaned her plate faster than you can say “bless your heart!”