This feels like a guilty confession. Boastful yet partially aghast at my audacity.
I admit it: I have 10 different kinds of winter squash in my kitchen.
All are edible (unlike the uber cute swan squash below! which I didn’t buy by the way)
There are the usual players: Butternut squash. Buttercup squash. Kabocha squash. Delicata squash. Spaghetti squash. Sugar pie pumpkin.
They all happened to be on sale this week.
But then, I went to the large Loblaws downtown (the one with 20 different kinds of mushrooms) and yes, they have plenty of squashes, too. Known for its wide selection, they carry many gourmet foods. While the dried mushrooms could cost you an arm and a leg (dried morels are $113.05/lb), the unique squashes didn’t break my budget.
From a local mostly-Mennonite farm and only $1/lb, I came home with new-to-me squashes: carnival, white swan and sweet dumpling (pictured left to right, above). I resisted buying the ambercup and turban squashes, but I may head back for my next squash fix. (These are small squashes, so it may happen sooner than you think!)
With the ridged nature of the squashes, I knew these squashes were meant to be stuffed. I filled them with quinoa and white beans spiced with sage and oregano from my garden along with fresh cranberries, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. The flavours worked well together and I liked the tartness from the fresh cranberries contrasting the sweetness from the maple syrup. I served it overtop spinach for a prettier presentation.
The squash verdict? Love the carnival squashes! Dry yet moist, crumbly and sweet. Perfect as a stuffed squash because you can eat through the squash at the same time and integrated it into the dish. It might be too crumbly to hold up as large chunks for soups or stews. In the end I ate the skin of the squash, too. It was nice and crispy after all the roasting, so make sure you scrub the squashes clean before you start.
PS. For those keeping track, I also have a golden nugget squash and haven’t tried it yet. Any predictions on how best to eat it?
This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to the Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge, and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.
Carnival Squash Stuffed with Maple Dijon Quinoa and Beans
Adapted from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
2 small carnival squashes, washed (can substitute any small acorn-type squash including sweet dumpling, white swan and acorn)
1 tsp hazelnut oil
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 scant cup water or broth
1-2 tsp coconut oil
1 leek, halved, cleaned and white/light green parts thinly sliced (225g)
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup cooked white beans (I used Yellow Indian Woman beans but any white bean or chickpea could work)
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. If you can cut your squash in half, all the power to you. I can’t, so I make a few small pricks with a fork and microwave it whole for 3 minutes on high. Now it should be soft enough to cut in half. Scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the squash with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
3. Place squash, cut-side down, on a silpat-lined baking tray and bake for 45 minutes, or until it is cooked through and a knife can be easily inserted.
4. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa: In a small saucepan, bring water or vegetable broth to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Keep covered for an additional 5 minutes to steam. Set aside.
5. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, heat oil and add leeks and sprinkle with salt. Cook until softened, around 7 minutes. Stir in the sage, oregano and cranberries and cook a further 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and maple syrup, adding any water if things become too sticky (it was ok with my non-stick skillet). The cranberries may begin to pop. Stir in the cooked quinoa and white beans and stir in combine. Set aside until the squash is finished.
6. Once the squashes are cool enough to handle, stuff each half with the quinoa mixture and return to oven, stuffed side up. Bake for another 10 minutes until heated through.
7. Serve overtop your favourite mixed greens and consider sprinkling with toasted walnuts.