Okay. I admit it. I can’t walk away from winter squash. I love ‘em. All types. All sizes. My sideboard is filled with pumpkins of varied lineage, also acorns, butternuts, spaghetti squash. And when I go weekly to pick up my winter CSA share, I feel compelled to buy one or two more squash over the few included in the share already. Perhaps it’s a way to stay connected to that bounty of fall, especially now that the stark winter weather is here and the trees are bare. Perhaps it’s because I love to eat any dish or baked good that has pumpkin or winter squash as part of its makeup. Soup, pasta, chili, muffins, pie, cake, pancake, pudding…..oh, stop me now!
Two days before Thanksgiving, my friend Kathleen and I pureed two types of winter squash to make pies. We sliced up a large musque de provence squash (otherwise known as fairytale), and roasted each slice until a fork slipped through the outer skin easily. Then into a food processor, into a custard, and, finally, into a homemade pie crust (courtesy of Kathleen!). We also halved a Long Island Cheese pumpkin (so named because of its resemblance to a wheel of cheese, pictured above) and roasted it. Looking at the two types of puree, it was apparent which would make the better pie. A taste test clinched it. The Long Island cheese puree had a creamy texture, golden color, and a sweeter taste. The fairytale was a more vibrant orange (oh, the beta-carotenes!), but a more watery texture and the taste, though good, wasn’t as sweet as the Long Island. We made pies from both, and while both tasted wonderful (oh, so much better than a pie from that fast-food restaurant I shall not name….), the Long Island Cheese pumpkin pie was heaven!
I am aware that not many people would choose to spend precious hours taste-testing pumpkin varieties right before Thanksgiving, but I skimp on the table decorations. (You guessed it: I put a few of the prettier squash in the center of the table and have done with it!) Anyway, I plan to use the gallons of winter squash puree in my freezer in just about every way I can think of. Kathleen suggested the pumpkin pancakes – I substituted the puree for mashed banana in one of our favorite pancake recipes, added cinnamon and a little ginger, and the kids couldn’t eat enough of them! We’ll make pumpkin bread to hand out to aunts, great aunts, grandparents, etc.. And I’m looking for a good pumpkin scone recipe…..
The one type of winter squash that I don’t puree and freeze is the spaghetti squash. These last a good while – though we’ve been eating ours weekly in a dish, Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling, that’s become a family favorite. Below is the spaghetti squash recipe. Enjoy!! I’m off to continue my winter squash odyssey......
Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling
1 spaghetti squash (3 ¾ - 4 lb), halved lengthwise and seeded
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups marinara or tomato sauce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place squash halves, one at a time, with a little water in microwave safe container with cover slightly askew to allow steam to escape, cook on high for about 8 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, sauté sausage, pepper, onion, and garlic in a skillet until sausage browns and vegetables are tender. Break up sausage with spoon. Mix in marinara sauce. Using a fork, pull out squash strands from shells. Mix strands with sausage mixture. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Place in casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (alternately, you can leave skins intact and place filling into the shells for a fun presentation). Bake uncovered in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and bubbly.