February 1, 2012

Chefs get creative with winter squashes

It's easier than you may think to break out of the soup-or-sweet-side-dish rut with the gourds.

By PAULA HAMILTON / McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 2)

squash tips
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Acorn squash, a dark bluish-green squash, may be the most common winter squash outside California.

Photos by McClatchy Newspapers

squash tips
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Butternut squash is particularly good in soups, stews and braised dishes.

Additional Photos Below

4. Warm the pie crust in the oven until hot to the touch. Then pour in the squash mixture and bake until the center of the filling is set but quivery, like gelatin, 35 to 40 minutes.

6. Cool on a rack, then refrigerate for up to one day. Serve with whipped cream.

Adapted from "All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking" by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker (Scribners, 1997)

CURRIED COCONUT SQUASH SOUP

Servings: 4

2 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), cubed

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

2 14-ounce cans coconut milk

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, divided

2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon jalapeno, thinly sliced

½ cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped

1. Steam the squash until tender, about 25 minutes. Cool, then roughly mash.

2. Place the curry powder in a soup pot and warm over low heat until it changes color and smells fragrant.

3. Add the squash and coconut milk, and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.

4. Add the ginger, soy and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the lime juice, half the cilantro, scallions and jalapeno and warm through. Taste and add salt, if needed.

5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with peanuts and chopped cilantro.

Adapted from "Fresh and Fast Vegetarian" by Marie Simmons (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 256 pages, $17.95)

GRAND CAFE DELICATA SQUASH SANDWICH

Servings: 2 to 3

Note: The roasted, marinated squash makes a great side dish, too.

MARINATED SQUASH:

3 to 4 delicata squash

½ cup maple syrup

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup sherry vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch cayenne

Salt and pepper

SAGE PESTO:

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch sage leaves

1 bunch Italian parsley

¼ cup pistachios, toasted

¼ cup grated Parmesan

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

SANDWICH:

1 baguette

1 cup goat cheese

2 cups of the marinated delicata squash slices

Fresh arugula leaves

1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and cut the squash into ¼-inch thick slices. Place in a glass dish or zip-top bag.

2. Combine maple syrup, oil, vinegar, garlic and cayenne. Pour over the squash slices and marinate for half an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange squash slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes or until crispy and tender.

4. For the pesto, place the garlic, sage, parsley, pistachios and cheese in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Finely chop by pulsing several times. Slowly add oil until the mixture is creamy.

5. To assemble sandwiches, slice baguette in half lengthwise. Spread goat cheese over the bottom of the baguette. Top with squash. Toast in a hot oven until the cheese is soft. Top with a handful of arugula. Spread the sage pesto on the top of the baguette. (Save any extra pesto in the refrigerator.) Cover the sandwich with the baguette top, slice and serve.

Alicia Jenish, Grand Cafe

DUNGENESS CRAB AND WINTER SQUASH CAKES

Servings: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as an entree

Note: Use a richly flavored, soft-textured squash, such as a kabocha, delicata or buttercup squash

1 pound crabmeat

¾ cup cooked and coarsely mashed winter squash

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 whole green onions, sliced thinly

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

½ cup mayonnaise

2 large whole eggs

½ cup unbleached white flour

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Canola oil for frying

1. Pick through the crabmeat to make sure there are no stray shell bits.

2. In a large bowl, gently combine the crab, squash, mustard, onions, dill and ½ cup mayonnaise, or just enough to moisten. Do not mash, but combine evenly. Form into 8 thick, flat discs.

3. In a small, flat bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs. Place the flour in a second bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs in a third bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.

4. Dip the crab cakes in the flour, then egg and finally coat with breadcrumbs.

5. In a heavy-bottom pan, heat about ½ cup of oil. Brown each cake for about 3 minutes on each side, until crisp and heated through. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes.

Jesse Cool, Flea Street Cafe

 

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Additional Photos

squash tips
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A turban-shaped squash, buttercup has a creamy, dark orange flesh and is consistently sweet and flavorful.

squash tips
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Elongated, with tender, pale yellow skin, the delicata squash has very sweet, pale orange flesh and an edible peel.

 


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