The garden has been closed for winter.
The last of the tomatoes made one more batch of soup and the last of the squashes were picked and laid in the sun to cure.
Even though the winter squashes got off to a slow start (apparently they don’t like the dry heat) I managed to harvest 20 butternut squash, 8 spaghetti squash and 10 assorted small varieties.
I would have had more but we had an unexpected light frost a week ago that killed the vines. Five unripened squashes went to the compost.
We’ll be eating winter squashes for the next 4 – 5 months.
It’s a good thing we like them.
Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Sauce on Spaghetti Squash
Total time: 60 minutes
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut in half
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4oz (120gr) mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) chicken broth
- 3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) white wine (or more broth)
- 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water (if needed)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half the short way and scoop out the seeds.
- Place cut-side down in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes at 400F, until the shell pierces easily.
- Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet.
- Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes total. Remove.
- Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, chili powder to pan and sauté 5 minutes.
- Return chicken to pan, add broth, wine, mustard and tomato paste. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken and cover with the pan lid to keep warm.
- Increase heat under skillet and stir in cornstarch for a thicker sauce.
- To finish:
- Remove spaghetti squash from oven. Using a fork, scrape out the strands and divide onto 2 plates.
- Put 2 chicken breast halves on each plate, top all with mushroom sauce and serve.
Argan oil is a plant / nut oil native to Morocco. It’s a key ingredient in most tagines and couscous dishes – and the ingredient most often missing in dishes prepared outside of Morocco.
Because the nut is extremely hard to crack most of the production is still done, either partially or completely, by hand.
The kernel, from which the oil is extracted, is surrounded by a hard shell, which is encased in a pulpy fruit. If you want more details, check out the Wiki site.
There are two types of argan oil: culinary oil made from toasted kernels and cosmetic oil made from un-toasted kernels.The kernels are ground by hand. In the photo below the woman on the right is grinding kernels for culinary oil – note the darker color from toasting. The one on the left is grinding for cosmetic use.
There are more efficient, larger mill stones used – powered by donkeys, but a lot of the oil is produce by Berber women.
The fruit surrounding the kernel is used for animal feed…. and is much loved by goats, in particular.
Yes, those are goats up in the argan tree, snacking on the fruit.
And yes, this is staged for the tourists to take photos…. Note the guy walking towards us with a baby goat.
In fact, if one goes off the beaten track, out into the dessert, one will see goats in the trees. They climb up by themselves, but usually only two or three per tree.
I was paying more attention to the goats in the trees than the baby goat in his arms and, before I could run, I found myself holding the baby goat.
He was only 20 days old and very, very soft.
The argan area is on the way to the coast. After leaving the baby goat we stopped to take photos of the view of the coast.
I guess it was my day for animals being thrust at me.
This time it was a donkey.
You can see the city and the ocean in the background.
After tipping the guy (yes, one must tip for all of these photo ops) I insisted on taking his photo with his donkey
He was such a happy guy…. And I loved his smile.
I managed to bring a bottle of Argan Oil back with me, as well as a lovely rose-scented face cream.
We did try to support the local economy.