Browsing articles tagged with " Winter Squash"

Quinoa Stuffed Squash

TAW81574-1Quinoa is a funny sort of grain. First of all, there’s the way it looks. It starts off pretty normal looking, kind of like chopped-up uncooked rice, but as it simmers away in the pot it begins to morph into tiny, semi-transparent ovals that are reminiscent of some sort of insect egg. I realize this description might not be the most appetizing, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it. As it changes from a solid to an opaque the germ separates and leaves behind a thin spiral-like strand that wraps around the grain. The whole thing is very science fictiony, but the result is quite tasty. TAW71505-1Quinoa (by the way its pronounced keen-wah)  is best known for its exceptional nutritional qualities. Its claim to fame seems to be that it is considered a ‘complete protein’. Essentially this means that quinoa is both high in protein and contains all nine of the amino acids that humans need. This is pretty rare to find in a plant and helps explain why, along with corn and potatoes, it was considered one of the three staple foods of the Inca civilization. That is until the 15th and 16th centuries when the Spanish began to conquer, um..I mean colonize, South America and they banished the cultivation of quinoa for a time due to its use in non-Christian religious ceremonies. Luckily these days quinoa cultivation is alive and well in countries such as Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. There is even a farm in the mountains of Colorado that has been growing quinoa since 1987. Check out these links to read more about this fascinating and wildly successful experiment.

The other strange thing about quinoa is that while its often placed in the same category as rice and other grains, it is not actually a grain. Instead it is actually a relative of some leafy green vegetables and is closely related to plants such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds? Tumbleweeds!

I could keep feeding you interesting tidbits about this super healthy, non-grain grain all day, but I suppose before you all stop reading and refuse to ever come back here again I should get to the recipe. TAW71467TAW71466
Stuffed squash is really a pretty basic dish. Generally you cook up a mixture of rice and veggies, stuff it in a hollowed out squash, throw it in the oven, and bamm…you have stuffed squash. In this recipe, the biggest variation from what I just outlined above is that the squash is partially cooked beforehand in the microwave (thank you Cooking Light for this excellent idea). This accomplishes two things. First it cuts the baking time down by more than half, and second because the baking time is shorter it allows the grain, or in this case the quinoa, to retain some of its nutty texture instead of turning to mush while it hangs out in the oven for an hour waiting for the squash to cook. For this recipe I used the beautiful Amber Cup squash pictured above. You could use a variety of different squashes in the is dish. Golden Nugget, Acorn, Buttercup, Autumn Cup, Carnival, Turban. Basically any winter squash with a shape that allows you to hollow it out and stuff it will work just fine. TAW71521-1

These are some of the goodies I put in the squash. The original recipe only called for onion, garlic, and sausage, but I decided to throw in some carrots, fresh Italian parsley and a portabella mushroom for extra flavor and texture. This last minute addition was so tasty that I am pretty sure I will be making a vegetarian version with just the portabellas in the near future. If you decide to go this route I would suggest using at least three mushrooms to replace the 8-ounces of sausage. On the subject of sausage, any kind will do but I used Al Fresco brand Chicken Apple sausage with Vermont Maple syrup- wow! That’s good stuff. TAW71549
Here is the squash stuffed and ready to bake- Yummm!TAW71559-1

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Roasted Squash Cinnamon Rolls

Squash Roasted Rolls

As promised, the squash journey continues. This week I  have taken on the ominous Blue Hubbard Squash. This beastly, bumpy, blue –tinted behemoth can be a bit intimidating because of its size. However, once you get past the monstrosity factor and figure out how to crack this baby open, the reward is a sweet, smooth dark yellow flesh that is oh so yummy.

I have been making this recipe, formerly called “Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls” for years. While they were good, some would even say delicious, I decided to mix it up a bit this year and substitute squash for the pumpkin. I’ve heard that the Hubbard squash is a great alternative to pumpkin because while it has a similar flavor the consistency is far smoother. Anyone who has even cooked a pumpkin and tried to mash it knows just how stringy it can be. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that pumpkin is great for cooking, and I will definitely be posting a pumpkin recipe or two sometime soon, but in  this recipe the Hubbard squash simply blew the pumpkin away. Blue Hubbard Squash

Before we start in on the recipe I feel obligated to give a bit of a disclaimer here. This is a long post…and this is a time consuming recipe. Stick with me though, because in the end when you are rewarded with the  soft, pillowy squash-filled dough oozing with an ohhhy, gooey, cinnamony filling you simply won’t care that you spent an entire afternoon making them. Besides, if you go all out like I did and roast up an entire 11-pound squash, as a bonus you will have delicious leftover roasted squash that you can turn into a whole bunch of other recipes!

I am getting a bit ahead of myself though. The first step to cooking with a Blue Hubbard is to get that thing open. Despite their beastly reputation, a Hubbard does not have to be..well, a beast. This recipe only calls for one cup of squash so if you want to make your life easier go ahead and get the smallest one you can find. I even saw a variety called Baby Hubbard while I was at the farm stand. Most of those probably only weighed a very manageable 3-4 pounds. However, if you are a squash lover like me, or just feeling adventurous, go for it and get the big one! The leftover squash can be used in so many ways. And besides, wrestling with this beast was kind of fun. I decided to use the time honored tradition of dropping the squash on the ground to crack it open. I put it in a plastic bag, lifted it above my head, and let it fall (I did this outside on the deck because we have ceramic tile in our kitchen and I was afraid I might crack it ). Sure enough, after one fall the squash split in two. They were still two pretty big pieces though so I threw it down again and this time it broke into a bunch of manageable size parts. The next steps were simple-  scrape out the seeds, peel off the skin, cut into roughly 1-inch size chunks and roast in a 375° for about 40 minutes or until tender. Once your squash is roasted to perfection, you can use a potato masher or food processor to turn it into a smooth purée. Set aside one cup of the mashed squash for the cinnamon roll recipe. If you went whole hog, or rather whole squash, and got yourself a big boy here are a few ideas for how to use your leftover squash:

  • Mash it up, add a bit of cream or milk, throw in some spices (rosemary, cayenne pepper, or sage would all be good ) and you have a soup.
  • Use the roasted cubes in a chicken pot pie!
  • Add the puréed squash to mashed potatoes for an autumn twist on a classic favorite.
  • Substitute the roasted Hubbard for Butternut in this recipe for squash Mac n’ Cheese (Omit step number two).
  • Mix the roasted cubes with wild rice, caramelized onions and a bit of sausage for a super quick meal.
  •  Make a squash pizza! Roasted squash makes an amazing pizza topping. Use a base of ricotta cheese, garlic and a bit of mozzarella. Top with squash, sautéed shallots and a bit of crispy bacon or pancetta.
  • Package the leftover squash in freezer bags and save for later.

There’s so much more you could do with the leftover roasted squash, but for now let’s get busy and make these rolls! Squash Cinnamon Rolls

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Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Butternut Squash Enchiladas
I love butternut squash. Actually, I love all squashes. 
It is my humble opinion that winter squash are one of the most versatile, delicious, and easy to prepare vegetables. They are also super simple to grow and come in an amazing array of funky shapes and colors. In fact, I am such a dork about squash that I’ve gathered some some fun tidbits about this special vegetable, um…fruit, for your reading enjoyment.TAW90812-2

TAW90784-1Squash are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Western hemisphere. They were first gathered and consumed in the area between Mexico and Guatemala around 8000 B.C. Apparently back then only the seeds were eaten though, because the early varieties were bitter and didn’t contain much flesh.

The butternut squash is the new kid on the block having only made its appearance in 1944.

We commonly refer to squash as a vegetable, but it is actually considered a fruit. Like cucumbers and melons they are part of the Cucurita genus.

This stuff is good for you!!! Winter squash is a fantastic source of antioxidants, including Beta Carotene and Alfa Carotene. It is also full of vitamin C (about 1/3 of daily value in a every cup), has anti-inflammatory properties, and contains omega 3 fatty acids. TAW90838


This fall I am setting out on a journey of squash exploration (and I hope you’ll come with me). I plan to hone my squash taming skills with some of the lesser know varieties like Carnival and Gold Nugget. I also will get rough with the beastly Hubbard squash (they say the best way to open this monster is to throw it on the floor). This week though, I thought I would start off slow with one of the most common of the winter squashes, the butternut. The butternut squash has a beautiful pale yellow skin and is shaped like a vase or a bell. Inside the deep-orange flesh has a sweet, nutty flavor and when mashed or pureed turns into a silky consistency that makes an excellent soup. Butternut squash can also be roasted, baked or boiled. In this recipe it is slowly simmered in a combination of cider vinegar and soy sauce which results in a mind-blowing tangy yet sweet flavor. The squash is then partially mashed and combined with leeks, black beans and cheese- yumm! This is a simple dish with a bold flavor that is sure to please.


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