Monday, November 8, 2010

TALE OF TWO SQUASHES..

DELICATA AND CARNIVAL SQUASHES
"It was the best of times, it was the..." wait a minute, it could never  be the "worst of times" when we have such fresh, beautiful produce to prepare and eat! What was I thinking?!


Delicata Squash, is just that, delicate. It is relatively petite in size, light in color and markings, and the skin is thin (for a squash, that is). The flesh is also a little lighter in color and density. The flavor is delicate, too, but delightful! Probably the best squash for "people who do not like squash". It is best when baked or roasted, I think.

Carnival, on the other hand, is more dense, heavier and sometimes larger. It takes longer to cook and is more dry. It is good for cutting into chunks and sauteeing, but it's beautiful markings and shape call for baking too!


These two are, of course, not the only types of squash, in fact they are probably more similar to each other than different varieties of squash, such as Acorn, Butternut or the "grandaddy" of  squashes, Hubbard. Their skins are hard, flesh dense and orange. The list goes on: the squashes are a large and interesting family! 


Hubbard, which I love to use for soup, was once a near disaster for me.  Youth is wonderful! You act on impulse and then actually have the energy to cope with your folly.  
I was planning a lovely buffet for a group at a conference center and wanted a spectacular presentation for the soup course. Hubbard Squash, of course! It can be HUGE!! and what a beautiful way to serve soup! So I blithely ordered a giant from the produce purveyor.

First of all, it took two of us to carry it into the kitchen. Secondly, we knew instantly that there was no way our kitchen knives would carve into this ROCK sitting on the counter. The soup was made and lunch was on in about an hour. Fortunately, it was lunchtime  and the maintenance crew was available. We put in an emergency call and they came, saws, chisels and hammers in hand! 
After they cut, ( and we bowed in gratitude!), we scooped the seeds, forever, but finished in time to present our beautiful, natural soup tureen, the Hubbard Squash.  Great idea, but never again. I think that is why they make ceramics that LOOK like vegetables!

The following is a lovely, light fruity recipe for baked stuffed Delicata.

FRUIT STUFFED DELICATA SQUASH
1/4 Granny Smith or other tart apple variety
1/4 pear
1/2 cup cranberries, halved or chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
3 tablespoons Panko or fresh toasted breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place in baking pan with a little water and cover with foil. Bake for 15- 20 minutes until softened.
Turn the oven to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile make stuffing. Cut the apple, and pear into small pieces and cut or chop the cranberries. Add the nuts, syrup, breadcrumbs and mix in the butter with your fingers.
Stuff the squash halves and bake for about 20 minutes until browned.



  A note on the maple syrup. Use Grade B is possible. It is less expensive and has more flavor. 

The second time I made this, I did not have pears or almonds, so I used a little pineapple and walnuts. The cranberries and apples are necessary, otherwise use your imagination or whatever you have in stock! This is so simple and so delicious. I don't think it would be as good with any other squash than Delicata. It is really a "delicate" light recipe.

Now for the Carnival. This recipe would work with Acorn squash as well (and probably many others !). The "stuffing" is based on a sauce I used to make for pasta at the White Rainbow, Sausage, Basil and Cream. Of course back then, it was homemade Italian sausage from Trupiano's. Now I use "Greenwise" Hot Chicken Sausage from Publix. How time changes all! 
The basil is still fresh from my "garden", now a container on the lanai. Does anyone remember my herb garden outside the White Rainbow kitchen?  Mine! The real one!! I have an old newspaper clipping of it and me picking Basil for a Pesto Lasagne, Night Rainbow "special".
Carnival Squash..doesn't it look happy!?
ITALIAN SAUSAGE, BASIL, CREAM STUFFED SQUASH
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Place it in a baking dish with a little water. Cover and bake for 30-40 minutes until softened. This is a denser squash and takes more time to bake. The recipe takes a long time, but the "active" cooking time is minimal.


4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
2 cups cream (yes, heavy cream)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
twist of black pepper
20-25 leaves of fresh basil, chopped 
1/4 -1/2 cup breadcrumbs to bind stuffing
1 pound (4) Italian sausages (hot or mild), casing removed
Melt the butter in a skillet. 
Saute the onion until softened. 
Add the sausage, crumble and cook until done.

Add the cream, nutmeg, pepper and parmesan and continue to cook until slightly thickened.




 Add enough breadcrumbs to "bind" the stuffing, but do not make it too dry.
Chop and add the basil.
Stuff the squash and bake for 20-30 minutes.



Cut, serve and enjoy!

This should stuff 4 squash and serve 4





 






1 comment:

  1. Great recipes!! and you make it look soooooo easy.

    ReplyDelete