I was recently asked by Terra (OSG’s editor extraordinaire) how I came up with this recipe, and after explaining my process to her we both agreed I should share my fun little kitchen story with you on the blog! I often think this stuff is going to be boring so I don’t tend to get into the behind-the-scenes details too often, but I’d love to hear what you think!
This recipe actually began as something totally different. I’d been working on a simplified butternut risotto and, despite a few attempts, it just wasn’t impressing me (okay, I totally have Shania Twain in my head right now). I had planned on trying that recipe one more time before moving on, but just couldn’t shake the feeling of DOOM I had about it. Whenever I’m clouded by this “feeling of doom” and try to force a recipe (ignoring the voices in my head screaming “noooo don’t do it!”), I find it usually winds up being a waste of time anyway. I have to say that the results are almost always still edible and often quite tasty…just not quite good enough to share!
So, putting the risotto aside, I brainstormed something in a totally new direction! I couldn’t get crusted butternut squash out of my head (#weirdo), and thought it would be absolutely amazing to create a nut-and-seed coating for one of my favourite sweet, hearty winter veggies. I thought about my popular eggplant parmesan recipe from Oh She Glows Every Day (page 173) and used that as a jumping off point to get the wheels turning.
But I didn’t want to share the crusted squash recipe on its own as I had a hunch many of you would ask me how to turn these crunchy beauties into a complete meal. I checked my fridge and saw that I had some kale on hand, so I decided to marinate the greens in a creamy dressing for a hearty base. Now what about adding more protein in addition to what the nuts and seeds provide? I’ve been wanting to make spicy roasted chickpeas using my 10-Spice Mix for a while, and thought the pop of heat they bring would be a nice contrast to the the sweet, nutty squash. Bingo!!
Let’s recap: crunchy crusted squash, marinated kale, and 10-Spice roasted chickpeas. Yes, this could be AMAZING!!! Soon enough, a meal was born! This is when I start to get really excited, if you can’t already tell. But then I realize that I have to write up that dang recipe…
After I come up with the complete recipe idea, I type the recipe out in its entirety, visualizing each step as I go along. (This is something I’ve gotten better at as the years have gone by, but I still think it’s probably the most difficult part of the process!) Then I use this detailed recipe draft as as a guide for my first test and any trials thereafter. Each time my recipe tester Nicole and I test the recipe, I make live edits into the working draft on my laptop. (Live editing sounds way more exciting than it is…hah.) Once we both approve of the recipe (Nicole owns her own daycare, so other testers often include children and parents too…score!), I make final recipe edits before Terra and I begin the back and forth of our editing process. I’ve been creating recipes for almost 10 years now, and I find this system helps me deliver consistent and high-quality recipes.
Okay, if you skip right over this and go straight to the recipe, I won’t blame you. It’s all about the food, after all! This recipe is a big one, so reading it over before you begin is especially important. Also, you’ll see it contains a few “mini” recipes within—nutty topping, 10-Spice Roasted Chickpeas, marinated kale, etc.—feel free to make individual components (like the roasted chickpeas or marinated kale) on their own when you’re not up for preparing the full dish. A little mix-and-match, if you will! I don’t want to gush too much, but I really hope you make the whole thing…everyone who tried this recipe RAVED about it (one tester even said it’s possibly her favourite OSG recipe ever!). I could eat it every day, personally. 🙂