Monday, September 19, 2011

Radical Cooking - Roasted Winter Squash

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com



Better, fresher, quicker, cheaper, healthier 
Cooking - the new, old fashioned way 


Deep in our genes, we have programming that adapts us to the seasons but, with electric lights, central heating, air conditioning, and food production that give us season-less eating year round, we live our days without punctuation.
Stuff your squash with apples.
YUM! 

Get back in touch with Mother Earth and celebrate her splender.

It's Fall now in Virginia so start with winter squash.

Winter squash is easy to prepare and easy on the budget.
It's easy on the waistline, too - unless you load it up with butter and sugar and is chock full of vitamin A.   


Roasted Winter Squash
Butternut, acorn, pumpkin, hubbard, dumpling, and spaghetti squash are only a few of the winter squashes.  

There are many ways to prepare winter squash but we like roasting the best because it's so easy.

Roasting mean no peeling - just wash, seed and pop into the oven.
And roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in squash making it naturally sweet.

All winter squash can be roasted the same way.  Here's how:

Wash the squash well.  Drain.  Do not dry.

Microwave (if it will fit into your microwave) for 2 minutes to soften the skin so it's easier to cut.
You can skip microwaving if your squash is too big to fit.

Cut the squash in half.  Remove the seeds and discard.  Rinse again to remove any traces of seed pulp.
(If stuffing, slice a bit off the bottom so it will sit on the plate cut side up without rolling.)

Put the squash cut side down onto parchment lined pan.  Lining with parchment (baking) paper is not required but it certainly makes clean up a lot easier.  (You could probably use foil if you didn't have parchment but we don't like to use aluminum next to food unless it's absolutely necessary.)

Roast the prepared squash in preheated 350 degree oven until soft.

Spaghetti squash cooks quicker than the others - about 35 minutes for an 8 pound squash.
Other squashes take about 1 hour for a 3 pound squash.

Cooking time will vary, too with the size of the squash.
Except for spaghetti squash, you really can't over cook winter squash.

If spaghetti squash is over cooked, the shreds of the squash will mash.
The taste will be OK if over cooked but you'll loose the eye appeal of the spaghetti strands.

Remove from oven when cooked.
Let cool until easy to handle then stuff as desired.
Return stuffed squash to the oven to heat through - about 20 minutes according to the kind of stuffing.
You can also microwave the stuffed squash to heat the stuffing.  


Sage, Celery and Apple Stuffing
You can stuff winter squash with almost anything.  Rice, whole grains, barley, quinoa, corn bread, even your favorite turkey or chicken stuffing.
  
This bread stuffing tastes like Thanksgiving.  We've added some apples - after all this is Virginia. It's particularly nice in butternut squash but yummy in any squash you happen to find at the market or farm stand.

This is a very forgiving recipe.
Adjust the ingredient amounts according to the size of your squash.

Made too much stuffing for your squash?
No problem!  Spoon it into a butter (or oiled) heat safe dish and heat.

Makes a wonderful side
For a vegetarian main dish add nuts or other protein.

A meal or a side in one easy recipe - that's pretty radical!!

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3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch black pepper
4 cloves garlic (chopped - to taste)
1 onion (chopped)
1 stalk celery
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 apple (peeled, cored and coarsely chopped)
2 tablespoons walnuts (optional)
1 cup bread cubes or a little more if necessary
Vegetable or chicken broth to moisten
Salt (to taste - optional)

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Add the pepper and garlic.  Cook about 2 minutes or till fragrant.  Add the onion and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until soft.  Stir in the apices, apple and walnuts, if desired.  Cook until apple is softened - about 2 minutes.  Stir in bread cubes and enough broth to moisten.  Add salt, if desired.

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