My husband and I have been watching a lot of movies lately – many more than usual for us. He’s a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, and it’s the time of year when studios mail movies that are up for the SAG awards to members for consideration in voting. A lot of movies that we just haven’t seen or that haven’t made it to our small town are now available via download or sent to our mailbox. With only a vague awareness of what the films are about, we sit down in the evenings to watch them. I enjoy watching movies like this, without preconceived ideas of how the plot will unfold or even what the basic storyline is going to be.
However, there are some things that would have been good to know beforehand – for example, how difficult it is to eat dinner while trying to keep up with what’s happening in a silent movie. It’s much trickier than you’d imagine. (Finish your dinner and then watch The Artist. Thus far, it would be my pick for best picture.) With a couple of the films – Beginners and The Descendants – I had imagined they were going to err on the side of light hearted, quirky comedy, when in fact, both of them were dealing with death, loss, intimacy, and the way we continue to renegotiate our closest relationships. They were both well done, but more Kleenex was involved than I’d anticipated. After the last tear fest, I turned to my husband with a stuffy nose and red eyes and said, “We have to start looking at these plot synopses more carefully.” If only movies came with warning labels in addition to ones for violence, nudity, and adult language. They could be things like, “Prepare for catharsis.” Or “Get ready to clear your sinuses.” Or “It’s going to get ugly. You may just want to watch this one alone.”
The best movies have a combination of both ends of emotion – sweet and bitter, pain and joy. In a way, it’s like the best meals. It’s all about balance. Which brings me to my recipe for Smoky Black Bean and Delicata Squash Tacos. There’s no reason why sweet potatoes should get all of the love when it comes to orange vegetables in tacos. The chipotle chili pepper and smoked paprika in the beans pair up beautifully with the natural sweetness of delicata squash. While they’re both lovely on their own, when they come together they inform the other’s best attributes. Top them with guacamole, salsa, jalapenos, and kale for colorful and mouthwatering tacos. (If your heart doesn’t beat for kale, consider shredded purple cabbage or romaine lettuce instead.)
If you’re unfamiliar with delicata squash, you’re in for a treat. It’s an easygoing squash that doesn’t have to be peeled and isn’t too difficult to chop in half to seed. It roasts in 20 minutes, and one squash is usually just the right size for a family of two. (For a video on how to work with delicata squash, check this out.)
- 1 small delicata squash, ends removed, deseeded, and cut into medium-sized chunks
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for light drizzling
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups black beans (1 15 oz can drained and rinsed)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp chipotle chili pepper
- ¼ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- Salt, to taste
- 2 Tbsp water
- Warmed hard or soft corn shells or whole wheat tortillas
- 1 leaf curly kale, rib removed, chopped small and massaged
- Cilantro, chopped (garnish)
- Guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, and/or sliced jalapenos (optional toppings)
Heat oven to 420 degrees. Put seeded and chopped delicata squash on parchment sheet covered baking sheet and top with a light drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. Toss to cover evenly and spread the pieces across the sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, stopping once to toss for even roasting.
Heat a skillet on a medium heat. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to skillet. Set aside 2 Tbsp of raw red onion to use as a taco topping. Sauté the remaining red onion and garlic a few minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Add black beans, lemon juice, cumin, chipotle chili pepper, coriander, paprika, smoked paprika and salt to pan. Combine and add water to deglaze pan (if necessary). Remove from heat and add black bean mixture and roasted delicata squash to warmed corn shells or tortillas. Top with raw kale, cilantro, salsa, hot sauce, and/or sliced jalapenos.
This month’s Iron Chef Challenge secret ingredient was squash. To see how others used this versatile winter vegetable, visit www.veganmofo.com.