6 Quick Ways with Squash
by Chris Halpin
I have always been fascinated by the stunning array of shapes and
colours that squash comes in. There is archaeological evidence of
squash being cultivated in the Americas as far back as 8000 B.C. and
remains an important food source for many cultures. They are a
close cousin to melons and are not a vegetable – as they are commonly
called – but rather a fruit.
If you roast squash with its skin on, it will last up to 10 days in the fridge. So, when I have
my oven on for cooking something else, I will often roast one to have it on hand. What I
do is poke the skin randomly with a fork, about 6 times, then lightly coat the outside with
cooking oil and place it in the oven, along with whatever else I have in there at the time.
At 350º F., a medium squash will take about 30 minutes.
Delicata Squash and Ginger Soup
Fresh ginger and turmeric are a flavour duo that pops on the palate and soothes the stomach, all at the same time. If you can’t find delicata squash, then use a deeply coloured squash like butternut. Into a large pot, put 1 onion, chopped, 1 small delicata squash peeled, cleaned and diced, 1 small fennel chopped, 1 T. minced fresh ginger and 1 T. minced fresh turmeric, no need to peel them or fuss in any way. To get the correct consistency for your soup, add only enough stock to cover the contents of the pot – about 3 c. or more, if needed, of chicken or vegetable stock. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, add salt to taste. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until everything is soft. With a blender, purée until smooth, adjust the salt and add 1/2 c. whipping cream. For a garnish, whip 1 c. whipping cream with 1/2 t. salt into stiff peaks. Chop about 2 t. of chives. To serve, spoon soup into bowls, place a dollop of cream in the centre of each bowl and sprinkle chives over top. Serves 4 to 6.
Red Kuri Squash Stuffed with Sausage
Red kuri squash can get quite huge. So, if you can’t find any small ones, then use acorn squash. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut 2 very small red kuri squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Arrange on a baking tray and set aside. In a bowl put 2 roma tomatoes, diced, 3 slices white bread, cubed, 4 spicy Italian sausages with the casings removed and picked into little bits, 2 T. chopped fresh parsley and 1 t. salt and toss to moisten the bread. Divide the filling into the squash “bowls.” Bake in the oven until the sausage is cooked and the bread looks golden and a little crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 2 to 4.
Stewed Chicken with Acorn Squash and Green Beans
This stew is a fast one. I don’t like chicken when it gets stringy, so as soon as the chicken is
cooked through, this stew is ready. Into a large pot, put 8 chicken legs, skin on, 1 acorn squash, peeled, cleaned and diced, 1 red onion, sliced, 24 baby
potatoes, cut in half, 2 c. water, 2 c. white wine, 1/2 t. saffron, 1 t. smoked paprika and 1 T.
salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 20
minutes be- fore adding 1 c. cut green beans and 1 red pepper, diced. Increase the heat to bring it
back to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the beans are tender,
adjust the salt and serve. Serves 4.
Coconut Curried Squash and Mushroom
There is something about this combo of portobello mushroom and kabocha squash that I find so satisfying! Simple and totally balanced; I wish my vegan friends would serve this to me. In a heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat, put 2 T. canola oil, 4 shallots, sliced and 2 T. madras curry paste. Sauté until the shallots are soft, about 4 minutes. Cut 3 large portobello caps into slender wedges and set aside. Peel and clean out half a medium kabocha squash, also cut into thin wedges. Add the mushrooms and squash to the pot, along with 1-1/2 c. coco- nut cream and 1-1/2 c. water. Bring to a slow boil and allow to cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is soft. Serve over rice or quinoa, finish with a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro. Serves 4.
Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca
Roast a spaghetti squash and have it ready for this recipe. There is a trick with this squash to get it to look like its namesake. Cut it in half lengthwise, from top to bottom. Scoop out the seedy stuff, use a fork and gently scrape from side to side along the short side. You will see that the flesh will go into long spaghetti-like strands; set this aside for later. In a dry pan over high heat, add one basket of grape tomatoes and allow them to scorch on a couple of sides. While this is happening, roughly chop 1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives, crush and finely mince 2 garlic cloves. When the tomatoes have finished scorching, turn the heat off and add 1 t. chile flakes. With a potato-masher squash the tomatoes, then add 1/4 c. olive oil, the kalamatas and garlic, 2 T. small capers, 1 t. dried oregano and stir to incorporate. Turn the pan to low and add the spaghetti squash strands and gently, evenly coat them. Adjust the salt and bring the puttanesca up to temperature. Serve as a side dish or crumble feta over top and serve as a main. Serves 4.
Maple Butternut Tarts
This is a great tart for Thanksgiving. The vinegar in this recipe is used to stop the eggs from setting completely and will make the filling creamy and a little runny – yum. Preheat the to 350ºF. To make the custard, in a bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs, add 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. maple syrup, 1 t. apple cider vinegar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Arrange 12 pre-pressed tart shells onto a baking sheet and put about 1 T. thinly diced butternut squash into each shell – about 3/4 c. in total. Fill each tart with the custard and bake for 20 to 25 minute or until the crust is golden brown. Makes 12.
recipe photos by Chris Halpin
Read Quick Ways in the digital issue of City Palate.