Thornton Winery Serves Up Local at Vegetarian Cooking Class

Roasted Butternut Squash

If you’re like me, you vow to eat more veggies and less meat, but quickly backslide as meat-free entrees seem so boring and one dimensional. Fortunately, a recent class with Steve Pickell of Cafe Champagne opened my eyes to the wonders of vegetarian cooking and I will be using and sharing his recipes often.

Our Classroom – Cheers! (with Linda Kissam)

With the Thornton Winery Fountain Courtyard as our classroom and winemaker David Vergari’s 2010 line up of wines to pair with our food, close to 30 students gathered to learn and indulge in Pickell’s culinary vision. The spices in this butternut squash salad were beautifully balanced by the cool yogurt and bright lime flavors. Perfectly paired with the Thornton NV Brut, this dish would be an excellent starter or side for your Spring menu.

Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Line and Green Chile
Serves 4 – 6

2 limes
sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
2 tbsp cardamom pods
1 tsp allspice
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 1/2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lime juice
1 green chili, thinly sliced (serrano, jalapeno). For less heat, remove seeds.
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Prepare limes: slice and then cut into quarters. Dress with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare squash: peel, halve, remove seeds and cut into 3/8 “ slices.

Prepare cardamom seeds: crack open cardamom pods and remove seeds. Cardamom pods can be found at Temecula Spice Merchant and seeds should be removed at the last moment as they lose their potency quickly.

To cardamom add allspice and remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, stir well and brush evenly over butternut squash slices. Place in 400 degree oven and cook 10-15 minutes until “fork tender,” let cool.

Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tbsp water and a pinch of salt.

To serve: arrange cooled butternut squash slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Garnish with lime slices, chili slices and cilantro.

Check in with us for the next five “Meatless Monday’s” and you will have the complete recipe book from the class.

To experience Chef Pickell’s cooking classes first hand, reserve a spot at the Tapas and Small Plates Class on May 26th by calling 951-699-0088. If you are more inclined to eat than cook, reserve a table at Cafe Champagne and experience award winning California Fusion Cuisine without lifting a finger.

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