Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Preparing winter squash

We had a great winter squash harvest this year, resulting in acorns, butternuts and a few varieties of pie pumpkins. Squash is one of my favorite side dishes. In addition to being flavorful and easy to prepare, fresh, uncut squash will hold for months (between 50-60 degrees is optimal).

Squash recipes are plentiful and I strive for the easiest preparation, which generally eliminates peeling. Many recipes calling for peeled squash can be modified to use squash roasted in and scraped from the skin.

Although they might not be much to look at, the butternut (l)
and acorn (r) squash are tasty fall treats.
To prepare, carefully cut in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Thoroughly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place squash cut side down and roast at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Flip squash cut side up and, if desired, stuff cavity. For the acorn squash, I made a bread stuffing
with apples and cranberries. The butternut was sprinkled with cinnamon. Brown sugar and butter were placed in the cavity. Return the stuffed squash to the oven for an additional 25 minutes.

Finished squash. Comforting, filling and healthy!

You can bake squash cut side down for 45-50 minutes, scrape flesh from skin and mash for a casserole. I added a a bit of butter, nutmeg and a drizzle of maple syrup. This is a great Thanksgiving side that can be made the day before and heated in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (while the turkey rests). Roasted flesh can also be used as a base for cream soup.

Squash Stuffing
1/4 cup onions
1/4 cup celery
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup dried bread cubes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 small apple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1 tsp dried sage or 2 tsp fresh sage
1/2 cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or cider
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan cook onions and celery in butter just until softened, about five minutes. Combine sauteed vegetables with bread cubes, cranberries, apple, bacon, and sage. Add stock/cider, stirring to moisten ingredients.  Divide stuffing evenly between four partially baked acorn squash halves. Return to oven and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Leave a comment with your winter squash preparation tips!

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