Necessity. Brilliance. Necessity. Brilliance. I’m going back and forth on this – I feel like a genius. I really do. I was making dinner – and, honestly, I wasn’t that into it. I was concocting something out of what was in the house and I was not excited about any of it, not particularly hungry, and not at all inspired. I got a little bit into creating some kind of very dry (not saucy) curry-type thing that was almost a stir-fry with chickpeas and sweet peppers and lots of black pepper.* While I was figuring that out I halved and seeded and started roasting two delicata squash in the toaster oven. I always start them dry and rub butter or whatever when they start to turn tender. I don’t know why I do that, but it’s my way.
So I have the onions browning for the chickpea thing and I check the squash (delicata, by the way, are a wonderfully sweet and, yes, delicate winter squash that cook up pretty quickly and are about a thousand times more interested as plain, roasted squash than either acorn or butternut – see more about winter squash varieties) and see that after about 15-20 minutes at 350 it’s getting tender. I go to the fridge to grab some butter to spread over the squash and see a big jar of white miso staring me in the face. Miso butter, I think, yum. As I pull the miso from the fridge I notice the small jar of homemade harissa sitting behind it. Hmmm, went my brain, a little spice on this chilly night would be nice….
So I mashed 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of white miso and about a teaspoon of harissa (although any thick-ist hot sauce would work, I believe) together and spread that all over the four squash halves and put them back in the toaster oven (at 375 now) to finish getting tender and browning up. It got very tender but not so brown so I cranked that poor little oven to 450. As you can see I maybe left them in there a minute or two longer than was absolutely necessary.
Big hit. Great success. As I said, brilliance. From necessity, but brilliance nonetheless. Ernest kept asking what was on the squash. I explained butter and miso and harissa. “But Mama,” he said a few times, “what is that?” I told him I had made it up. “So you get to name it?” he exclaimed. Yes, I suppose I did. His suggestion? Spicy miso butter sauce. Not too shabby. Direct, descriptive, appetizing (to us, anyway), SEO-friendly.
* It seems weird to sort of taunt you with it, so if it sounds good, here’s how to make it: Brown 1 chopped onion in a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Add three chopped sweet peppers (I used 1 red and 2 yellow which, yes, made for a very yellow dinner) and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the peppers are tender. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and a bit of grated fresh ginger. Stir to combine. Add two cans of chickpeas and about 1/2 cup broth or water. Stir and cook until everything blends nicely and the liquid is mostly gone. Add a lot of freshly ground black pepper – to taste and sprinkle in some chopped parlsey or cilantro if you have some around. If you have all these ingredients sitting around and need to make something to eat, it’s a perfectly tasty and serviceable option.