Recipe Source: Batmanglij, Najmieh. Silk Road Cooking. Mage Publishers, Washington DC, 2004 p. 190
Prunes have a horrible reputation in our society. We think of them in one way and one way only, and we just cannot seem to get our heads around them in any other way. We're trying to toilet train our daughter right now (a process that is clearly a punishment for every sin that either of us has ever committed) and I tried to introduce a prune as a treat. "I don't want to eat the poo!" Fearless Toddler wailed, adding significantly to the abject misery of the day. (I'm sure that this will be hilarious in ten years' time, but if you ever want to feel like the most horrible person in the whole wide world, try toilet training.) This is a shame, because they're a useful and healthful ingredient that can add a great touch to your cooking.
I made this as a side dish for turkey one recent Sunday and as usual I made a few changes. I reduced the amount of oil. I omitted the walnuts because of allergy concerns, and let me tell you I really, really hope that we can start introducing walnuts at some point in the near future. I added some spices. I changed some spices. I omitted the sugar because between the prunes and the squash there was quite enough sweetness here. I used more prunes than called for because that's how many I got at the store; we've already established what my daughter thought of them and I've got enough other ingredients lying around, I don't need more.
My husband and daughter both really enjoyed this dish. They like sweet foods very much. I could have lived without that, but honestly the interplay of the spices and the flavors really made any sweetness a lot less cloying and this would be a great Thanksgiving side dish for any family.
Squash with Prunes (serves 4; approx. $3.41/serving)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
3 - 4 cloves
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 butternut squash (approx. 2 lb). peeled and cut into 2" cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups prunes
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- Large saucepan with lid
- Heat the oil in the saucepan.
- Add the cinnamon and the cloves. Cook about 10 seconds.
- Add the squash and the onions. Cook until the onions are golden, about 10 - 15 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 - 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- Serve and enjoy