Squash as candy... almost

Had we planted too many vines? Should we let the weeds take them early? Oh, constant squash, they never let you down. Early one Saturday morning as I lay sleepless, I whispered to Steven, “We need to get a hog.”
“A hog?”
“For the squash.”
He knew I couldn't be serious. We didn't need a pig.
 ~Barbara Kingsolver "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life"

There's something about the abundant feeling of squash that makes me happy for the change of season. Ours are from our garden, our neighbors and from Harlequin Produce. I store (hoard) them away in a spare closet, wiped with white vinegar (which I read somewhere prevents mold) and wrapped in newspaper. There they quietly sit, a bank of deliciousness for winter nights. 

Delicata squash...

Delicata squash...

Delicata Squash aka french fry candy

Years ago, a neighbor brought over a squash dish made from her homegrown Delicata squash, that blew me away. Now I look forward to eating these lovely squash like french fries. Unlike other winter squash, you eat it skin and all. Less work! They don't store as long as other winter squash, so we eat it early in the fall. Here is an easy recipe we make often.

The original recipe is here. My notes:

  1. I made the mistake of lining my sheet pan with parchment paper to have less clean up. Don't do this! You need the contact with the pan to get that delicious carmelization.
  2. Follow the recipe and go light with the olive oil. 
  3. Watch them carefully, and if your oven has uneven heat like mine, rotate the pan. They really don't take very long to cook through.
  4. There will be no leftovers. Any that aren't eaten with dinner are picked off the pan and eaten while doing the dishes.
roasted delicata (2).JPG
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Roasted Delicata Squash
  • 2-4 depending on size (~1.5 lbs) Delicata squash
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • to taste salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.Clean the Delicata squash by running under warm water and scrubbing away dirt with your hands. If there are any hard spots on the squash, you can scrape them off with a butter knife.With a sharp knife, cut squash in half lengthwise. This should be easy and not require any crazy hacking. With a spoon scoop out the seeds and discard (you can save these and prepare them like pumpkin seeds if you wish). Cut each Delicata half into 1/2 inch wide segments, creating half moon-shaped pieces that have slight bumps around the curve.Arrange the pieces in a single layer in a metal baking pan and coat in 2 tbsp olive oil. Too much oil can make the squash soggy. Salt gently. It’s okay if the pieces are a little crowded, but try to maximize the surface area of the squash touching the pan. The browning only occurs where the squash and pan meet.Place in oven and roast 10 minutes. Using a spatula (I use tongs for most veggies, but delicata squash are easily squished and hold up better if you don’t pinch them) flip the squash slices in the pan so that the light sides are now touching the pan and the brown sides are facing upward.Continue roasting, flipping every 7-10 minutes until both sides of the squash pieces are golden brown and the texture is creamy to the teeth all the way through, about 25-30 minutes. Adjust salt. Serve as a side dish with the rest of your dinner.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2-4 as a side dish

Curried Squash Soup

Sunshine Kabocha

Sunshine Kabocha

My version of this recipe with Sunshine Kabocha squash

My version of this recipe with Sunshine Kabocha squash

This recipe is from Erica Strauss's book, "The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping." I have felt like my soups were a bit on the bland side in the past, but now that I am making homemade broth (more on this in future posts), soups taste so much richer. This one was amazing. Thick, creamy, and sweet. Even better as a leftover. I used the squash called Sunshine Kabocha, which added to the bright orange color. I did go ahead and make the garnishes. I also used homemade chicken broth.

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curried butternut squash soup with caramelized apples and cider cream
From the author, "branch out from butternut and try out some lesser-known heirloom winter squash...sweet meat, sugar hubbard, kabocha, and banana squash all make excellent soup..."
  • 4 pounds (about 2 medium) butternut squash (or your choice of winter squash)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large baking apple
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon lightly packed light brown sugar
  • to taste Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Move an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape the seed cavity clean. Place the squash on a sheet pan, cut side up, and brush with about 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sprinkle the squash evenly with the curry powder and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. A butter knife should pierce the thickest part of the flesh without resistance.While the squash is roasting, in a large, heavy stockpot set over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside.When the squash is tender, set aside until just cool enough to handle, then scrape the squash meat from the skin with a big spoon.Add the squash meat to the onions and ginger in the pot. Compost the cooked skin.Mash the squash in the pot with a potato masher, sturdy whisk, or fork. Add the broth, stir well, and return the pot to medium heat. Bring the soup to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.Prepare the garnishes while the soup is simmering. (Optional). First, in a small bowl, mix the sour cream, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar together until combined. Cover and refrigerate until serving. For Garnishes- continued. Peel, core, and dice the apple into 1/4-inch cubes. In a saute pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the butter foams, add the diced apples and curry powder and cook, stirring often until the apple pieces caramelize, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to cook until the sugar melts and coats the apples, another minute or so. Season with a tiny pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. When the soup is done cooking, use an immersion blender to puree it to a smooth, creamy consistency, or transfer the soup to a blender and very carefully puree in batches before returning to a clean pot. (If using a blender, vent the lid by removing the center pour cap, place a clean kitchen towel over the lid of the blender, and hold the towel-covered lid down firmly while pureeing.)Stir in the apple cider vinegar, and adjust seasonings to taste with salt, pepper, or additional vinegar, as desired. If the puree is too thick, add in additional broth or water to adjust. The soup should be about the consistency of heavy cream.Ladle soup into wide, shallow bowls. Mound generous spoonful of the caramelized apples in the center of the bowl and drizzle a bit of the cider cream around the soup. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 to 8

Stuffed Butternut Squash

We made this recipe when we had friends over for dinner, and I'm glad we made it for a special occasion, more than a regular dinner with ourselves. It was a bit decadent and rich. It is from the "River Cottage Every Day" cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I am really enjoying two of his cookbooks that I acquired this summer. He writes that this is an easy recipe to adapt and alter the stuffing. He has even made it with acorn squashes.

My notes: We made this pretty much as it is written, even going to the garden and digging under the snow for fresh thyme. We had goat cheese cheddar from our neighbor, Frank.

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Stuffed Butternut Squash
We made this for a special occasion, more than a regular dinner with ourselves. It was a bit decadent and rich.
  • 1 large (about 3 pounds) or 2 small ones butternut squash
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a little olive oil or canola
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and very coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled into small lumps (or use a crumbly goat cheese)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 scant Tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make sure the outside of the squash is scrubbed clean. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft fibers. Put in a baking dish, add the chopped garlic and butter to each cavity, then brush with a little oil and season well. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flesh feels very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.Scoop the soft flesh and all the buttery, garlicky juices out into a bowl, leaving a 3/8-inch-thick layer of flesh still attached to the skin, so the squash holds its shape. Coarsely mash the flesh. Keep back a few pieces of walnut and a little of the cheese, then fold the remaining walnuts and cheese into the soft squash, along with the thyme and some more salt and pepper.Spoon the filling back into the squash halves and scatter on the reserved cheese and walnuts. Finish with the merest drizzle of honey, then return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4
VegetablesJennifer Knoetgen