I always try to find new ways to stuff a squash or a pumpkin just because I love to find excuses to eat a whole squash. It may look big but it is still a very small size squash. The only big ones I buy are the large kabocha which I slice and freeze. That also reminds me that I have two in my kitchen of which I need to get to.
Anyway, there are only so many ways you can stuff a pumpkin, seriously. The base is either bread or grain in addition to either meat, fruit, or vegetable fillers. It is then baked and served as either the main course or a side dish. So, I mean, what the heck else can you do with a whole squash? I did think of another recipe that I can use later on, however, I thought maybe I can invert the concept of stuffing a squash or deconstruct it - and I did. It just made eating pumpkin a whole lot more fun. There isn't anything wrong with eating a whole small squash to be frank: lots of beta carotene, fiber, low fat, and good. I'm telling you I should rename my blog The Thin Pumpkin or something just because of my pumpkin/squash obsession. I also have been straying from my kabocha to try different types of winter squash (yes, shocking, isn't it?). I found out that there are, in fact, different textures and flavors of the different squashes.
Acorn - The acorn winter squash is a very, very sweet squash. I kept swearing that I added sugar when I know I didn't. I simply seasoned the squash with salt and pepper prior to roasting it for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven and, when I went to eat it, holy mole, it was like eating sugar or a less starchy sweet potato. I can't understand why people would add more sugar to this baby when roasting it unless it was to be a dessert. The skin is also rather tough but edible.
Butternut - The butternut squash is like a carrot and a rutabaga combined. It is mildly sweet and has the texture, once cooked, comparable to a boiled carrot, obviously not as carrot-y. It is very pleasant but not sweet at all. It makes a good savory accompaniment or if you're looking for a more bland/blank squash pallet to work with. The skin can be eaten, from what I've heard, but it is mildly tough so I wouldn't recommend it. With my digestive system being so crappy and not easily breaking down the skin, I wouldn't recommend it.
Calabaza - The Calabaza has a similar taste to the spaghetti squash, texture like the carnival squash and butternut squash. It isn't sweet but bland unless seasoned correctly. This is the squash more prominent in Peru and Mexico when they serve Locro or speak of those gigantic size pumpkins grown there. The skin on the Calabaza is tough and coarse so I do recommend peeling it prior to cooking as the butternut squash. Just take precautions when handling the sharp peeler and tough pumpkin skin. Use a hand towel please.
Carnival - This squash actually surprised me. I thought it was going to be less flavorful than in actuality. The carnival squash has a very pleasant nutty flavor and a smooth texture, less creamy and starchy than the kabocha, but more comparable to the acorn squash, yet, not as sweet. It is a very delightful change and definitely pretty to look at. The skin is also rather thin so it is easily digestable.
Kabocha/Sweet Dumpling - The king of kings (should be named Jack). Jack Kabocha? Hah, right, anyway, the kabocha is the best pumpkin you can find, if you can find it. Then again, if I can find it in several places here, it should be everywhere since I'm in the middle of BFE, as my beloved states. Kabocha has a starchy texture, like a potato, but more creamy and sweet. It can be eaten whole because the skin breaks down exceedingly well. It is my all time favorite. I would eat this breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I didn't feel like a glutton afterward. It makes a fantastic pudding on its own by just blending with some nondairy milk or mixing with some yogurt, then topped with granola which I shall do at a later date. Right now Kroger has a special on squash so everytime I go to the grocery store, I'm coming home with more pumpkin. Phillip thinks I'm weird to be so obsessed with pumpkin. Yeah? Well, if you ever see him, ask him about cilantro. Uh huh.
There are still a few squash I have yet to try but that's only because I have yet to find it in stores. There's still the turban squash and another I cannot recall. This is all for the winter variety. Summer squash is okay but meh; although, the UFO squash (I call the patty pan squashthat because it reminds me of a flying saucer. Didn't I mention that I have issues?) is very good. I think there's a different variety in the Indian market that I saw and have to try. I didn't recognize the name but it could have been the Indian title for pumpkin. Eh, who knows? I think once I get my house, I'm going to grow pumpkin. It isn't like I don't have access to the seeds. Psh, right? I'll grow my own international garden, darn it.
Pumpkin and squash facts aside, this recipe dabs on French cuisine since I'm once again obsession with the flavors and it entirely has nothing to do with Julia Child. I met my new celebrity crush and his name is Mikelangelo Loconte, an Italian born boy who sings French. Hello gorgeous. But, yes, anyway. It is a very simple recipe with European flavors that can be interchanged with other spices and seasonings. You can also swap out the Mornay sauce with even a BBQ sauce if you prefer - ..ooh..idea.. Well, I guess that means I have to go buy more squash!!
Deconstructed Stuffed Squash
1 small acorn squash
½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
¼ red onion, sliced thin
1 small parsnip, diced
1 tbsp walnut
1 crumbled and toasted corn muffin (Or 1 slice bread, crumbled and toasted)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp herbs de province
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp minced parsley
Pepper (preferably white)
1 tbsp rice flour
¼ cup nondairy milk
1 slice nondairy cheese
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
For the squash: To prevent from cutting yourself, if you’re inexperienced with a knife, have a dish towel ready. Get your chef’s knife and slice off the crown about ½ inch down from the top then about 1 ½ inches down. The top is the flat end. Rest the squash open side down on top of your cutting board. Cut the squash in half and then in quarters. Do more if necessary but mine came out to be five I think since I had cut it unevenly. Oops? Uneven or not, it still tasted good. Think of it as a soufflé. Even after it falls from its elegant state, it is still mighty tasty.
Line and spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, spread out squash. You should have one “base” then 4-6 wedges depending. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or so.
Crumble the muffin on a cookie sheet and place in the toaster oven, or, in a pan while dry toasting. Set aside once done.
In a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, brown the garlic and onions. Add a bit of water to deglaze and unstuck then add the parsnips with about an inch of water or so. Turn the heat low, cover and cook until tender. Once the parsnips are soft and moisture mostly evaporated, add the artichoke hearts, salt, pepper, herbs, celery seed, and a bit of lemon juice. When everything looks dry, add the walnuts and breadcrumbs then remove from the heat.
When the squash finishes, transfer that onto a plate and arrange as desired. Spoon the filling onto the squash in your preferred arrangement. What I did, since it is “deconstructed”, was arrange it with the round being in the center and the remaining squash jutting out as if it split open.
For the sauce, brown the flour in a small sauce pan very lightly. I mean lightly because a mornay sauce is white; it is simply a béchamel with cheese added. When you begin to smell a toasty aroma, add the milk while whisking like a madman so it doesn’t curdle. Once the flour and milk are combined lump-less-ly, add the cheese and let that cook until it slightly thickens. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, as it will thicken once cooled. Pour this over the squash and serve as a side dish, or, main course garnished with fresh chopped parsley. For meat eaters, add sausage. For a more hardy take, add crumbled tempeh or your favorite legume (I’d opt for navy or cannelini beans).