Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Sad Bowl

A little while ago, Almost Husband and I were watching television when a commercial came on that caught our eye. KFC came out with a line of meals called "KFC Famous Bowls". In these bowls, they've managed to cram potatoes, chicken, cheese, gravy and who knows what else, into one bowl, in an attempt to get all their favourite flavours in one convenient format. They've solved so many problems for consumers! No more having to select a piece of chicken individually - how can you choose with all those pieces in that big bucket? Mind boggling! And fries - do they need their own container? Not anymore! Pffft. It's practically an environmental initiative, what with all the packaging they're saving on...

"Oh my god," Almost Husband said, "It's so...sad. Those are totally sad bowls." We mused on it for a while. It's like KFC designed a line of meals specifically for sad people. Sad people who can't be bothered to separate their food groups on a plate. Sad people who are one step away from putting their meals in a blender and drinking it with a straw because really, they're just eating to stay alive - there's no joy involved. KFC has enabled these people to purchase a meal that is basically the final step before the body's digestive process, saving them valuable time to presumably do more important things, like file their taxes, or trim their cats' nails. We scratched our heads.

The funny thing is there is something kind of awesome about this. Yes! I'm not joking! There are days when you don't want to bother with food, you just want to shut up the hunger with something quick. KFC is actually pretty brilliant, if you think about it, for appealing to people who are so hungry, they have no shame about what they'll put in their guts. Almost Husband has actually devised a 'Sad Bowl' of his own, consisting of rice, corn and sausage, or sometimes cut-up bits of hamburger. He mixes them all in a big bowl and that's that. And once in a while, I do it too.

Tonight, as I was walking home, I thought about making my own sad bowl, which is similar to Almost Husband's. I was tired, my stomach was bothering me, and I wasn't really in the mood to fancy it up in the kitchen. But I had some spinach and a leftover bit of blue cheese, and slowly, something started to come together in my head, and my stomach agreed to it. And with the exception of peeling the butternut squash, which kept slipping out of my hands into the sink and scaring the bejesus out of my dog, I loved every minute of it. Especially the eating part.

There are several ingredients encompassing several food groups here, and there is a bowl involved, but it's not a sad bowl. It's an "I'm glad I took the time to make this" sort of thing, where sweet and salty and creamy and tangy converge with utter satisfaction. A fresh slice of grainy bread with some butter would make great bedfellows with this. I will certainly be making this again!

This is my recipe, inspired/adapted by one I found here. Feel free to make you own changes. As I usually cook for myself due to Almost Husband's dietary preferences, I try to make smaller amounts that will feed one person with some leftovers. I used half a butternut squash and froze the rest for future use.

Butternut Squash, Pear and Wilted Spinach Salad:

1/2 a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and halved, then cut into smallish cubes (about 1")
2 pears, cubed (I kept the skin on; do as you wish)
1 apple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 bunch of spinach
2 chicken sausages
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (more or less to your taste)
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350
°F. Prepare the squash, pears and apple and mix with the olive oil and maple syrup. Put in roasting pan and keep an eye on it; you want the fruit and squash to still retain some of their firmness. Mine took about 30 minutes, but my stove runs a bit hotter than normal stoves.

2. In medium pan, wilt the spinach over medium-high heat, which takes about 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, pressing with dishcloth to remove as much excess water as you can.

3. In the same pan, put in your sausages and fry till well cooked and golden. Mine took about 20 minutes or so. I tried to do it at the same time as the roasting for quicker preparation. Cut into small pieces and set aside.

4. To make the dressing, mash the blue cheese and ricotta with the lemon juice and olive oil till it becomes a smooth paste.

5. Combine the squash, pears and apple with the spinach and sausage. Top with the dressing and serve.

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