Banana Squash

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I am a little late posting this…and sorry for the fuzzy picture, but definitely a vegetable to be familiar with.  We discovered this banana squash at a local farm stand in October.  I had to know what it was and what do you do with it.  I can’t remember but it was 3 for $5 or 3 for $10.  Seeing the size of one either price is a good deal!!!  Yes we did buy three of these monsters.

Come to find out you can use this squash the same as pumpkin or butternut squash.  In fact, research told me that a lot of pumpkin pies are actually banana squash.  If you make a lot of pies around thanksgiving this is a great deal for you.  We did use it for a pie with excellent results.  I have also used it for just squash sauté and in soups.  Our freezer now has a lot of cubed squash and pureed ready to go for any squash type recipe.

Do you want some more information on this wonderful find?  Check out this blog post from Firesign Farm along with a pie recipe.

FYI:  In the same shopping trip we picked up some Canary Melon to try as it was cheaper than the honeydew and cantaloupe.  It is bright yellow and has a sweet flavor.  We were pleasantly surprised.  If you like melon then this is one to try if you see it at your farmer market.

 

Butternut Squash Cheese Dip

Looking for a new dip to get ready for football season!  Yes, I know it is only the beginning of August but I am ready for some Sunday football.  I got this recipe from Cooking Light Jan/ Feb 2016 issue.  Made it back then but forgot to post.  A great way to enjoy a cheesy dip without all the guilt.

I made no substitutions or deviations…I used fresh butternut squash that I roasted.  It was too good not to pass along so here it is:

Butternut Queso Fundido
If you prefer, you can roast a halved, seeded butternut squash at 350° for 45 minutes or until soft. Scoop 10 ounces of flesh, and use in place of the puree.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon canola oil
¾ cup diced red onion
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsalted chicken stock
1 (10-ounce) package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
3 ounces shredded Oaxaca or part-skim mozzarella cheese (about ¾ cup), divided
3 ounces shredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican-blend cheese (about ¾ cup), divided
⅓  cup very thinly sliced radishes
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
30 light tortilla chips
Celery sticks (optional)

Preparation: 
1. Heat oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add red onion; cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock, squash, chipotle, and adobo sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add 2 ounces Oaxaca cheese and 2 ounces Mexican-blend cheese; cook 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring until cheese melts.

2. Preheat broiler to high.

3. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over top. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Top with radishes, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeño. Serve with chips and celery sticks, if desired.

SERVES 10 (serving size: ¼ cup fundido and 3 chips)
CALORIES 119; FAT 4.3g (sat 2.2g, mono 0.3g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 6g; CARB 16g; FIBER 2g; SUGARS 1g (est. added sugars 0g); CHOL 8mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 207mg; CALC 133mg

 

Butternut and Pasta Stew

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The making of this stew came from wanting to make pasta fagioli and using butternut squash.  When making stews and soups I rarely measure anything out.  Actually I don’t typically measure anything when I cook so putting some of these recipes in print has been a learning process.  I am constantly stopping myself to measure so I can tell all of you how much of an ingredient I used.  Cooking is all about taste.  If you have watched any cooking shows you are already used to hearing, “Taste Taste Taste”. Tasting your food constantly allows you to adjust your seasonings to your preference.

So I said this started as wanting to make a Pasta Fagioli but I know this ended up far from that original thought.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 -2 cups each of celery and carrots, chopped
  • Half of a medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 12 oz can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2- 28 0z cans of whole peeled tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, thyme
  • Olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Chicken broth, to thin out as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta ( I used orecchiette)

Making stews/soup is relatively easy…sauté meat and veggies, add broth and seasonings- let all blend together by simmering.  Add pasta about 20 minutes before serving time and have some crusty bread ready.

  1.  In your Dutch oven or large pot heat about 2 Tablespoons of EVOO.  Add your sausage and brown.  Remove sausage from pan.  I place on a papertowel lined plate to soak up some of the grease.
  2. Add your onion, celery,  and carrots.  Sauté until onions start to turn translucent and then add garlic and your butternut squash. Continue cooking until squash starts to soften.
  3. Depending on the sausage used sometimes I don’t have a lot of grease, but if you do remove the veggies and wipe out pan.  I have also added my veggies to the meat after browning slightly so there is no right or wrong.  Okay well I am sure some chef will say there is a right or wrong but it is still going to taste good!
  4. Add your sausage to the veggies in the pot.  Add the cannellini beans, the pureed tomato sauce and seasonings.  Let come to boil, turn to simmer and have a glass of wine.
  5. The longer it simmers the flavors will all come together.  If you need to thin it out add some chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. When you are happy with the flavors turn up the heat and add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  7. Serve with some grated cheese on top and bread.  I choose shaved Grana Padano and Epi bread.  Actually it is Pain d’Epi or wheat stalk bread. Epi is perfect for soups as everyone can break off their own section.
pain d'epi

 

Fall-Winter Pasta

A few months ago while waiting for Paul to get called back for surgery we saw a quick pasta dish that intrigued both of us on TV.  It incorporated pasta, butternut squash and pesto.  Paul teased me how come I don’t make meals like that…so here is what I made:

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INGREDIENTS

3 Shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium butternut squash, cubed

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Fresh ground sea salt

1/2 teaspoon basil

1 pound Italian sausage

Campanelle pasta

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped (remove ribs)

5-7 baby bella mushrooms quartered

1/2 Cup of white wine

1/4 Cup of half and half

Like many recipes I use what I have available.  Don’t have poultry seasoning?  No problem use sage, some thyme, and a pinch of nutmeg to bring out the warmness of the butternut squash. I like adding greens whenever I can.  So if you don’t have Kale use spinach or another green.  This recipe will obviously work with any pasta but I particular like the campanelle as it has the crevices that the sausage and sauce can get into.  Campanelle pasta is cone shaped with ruffled edges and sometimes referred to as Bells.  Other pastas I would recommend are orecchiette (little ears), farfalle (bowtie), or Cavatappi (corkscrew).  This gives me an ideas that I should write a post on the various pasta shapes….ok getting off track back to this delicious recipe.

  1. Set your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut your butternut squash into cubes, place in a bowl with about Olive oil (about 1- 2 Tablespoons), the garlic sea salt and poultry seasoning.  Mix well and then place on baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes until squash is softened.
    1. The amount of olive oil and seasoning will depend on how much squash you have.  You want enough to evenly coat when mixed.  Also, the amount of time to cook your squash will depend on how big you cut your cubes.

untitled (7)2.  While squash is cooking sauté the sausage, shallots and garlic.

3.  Bowl a pot of water with some salt to cook the pasta as directed on package. Reserve some of the cooking water.

4.  When sausage is cooked add the mushrooms and kale.  Also add the basil and about 3 “twists” of black and 2 “twists” of salt

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5.  When squash is cooked add half of the roasted squash to your meat and vegetable mix.

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6.  When pasta is done add to the mix.

7.  Put the other half of squash in a blender along with about 1/4 cup of pasta water.  This is your sauce.  Now you can just use the pasta water and add to your desired thickness.  I also added to mine about 1/2 cup of white wine (Barefoot Chardonnay- sweet)  and about 1/4 cup of half and half.  If I had shredded cheese like parmesan on hand I may have added that too. Blend and then add to your pasta mix.

8.  Stir and add more pasta water if need to thin it out.

9. Top with shaved parmesan if you have it.