Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple Raisin Pecan Stuffed Delicata Squash

Closeup of piece of stuffed delicata squash
Fabulous Fruit and Nut Stuffing

Gluten Free Recipe by Robin

Two years ago I had no idea what delicata squash were, although I received them in my CSA farm share during fall deliveries. Delicatas are delightfully light-textured and sweet oblong-shaped winter squash. The skin is edible, but some people (my husband for example) don't want to eat it. So it's best to cook delicata so that the skin can be removed should someone choose to.  My maple glazed delicata squash rings were a big hit around Thanksgiving last year. This year baskets of apples overflowing onto kitchen counters gave me sudden inspiration to slice the delicatas in the opposite direction and stuff them with something akin to apple pie filling.

Apples in pan with Brown Sugar, Salt, and Spices
Apple Pie Ingredients
As in apple pies, the best apples for stuffing squash are tart. Granny Smiths and Pippins are classic varieties. Or use three different kinds of apples for more varied taste and texture. It's best if one or two of the apples are tart, but you can somewhat compensate for sweeter apples by adding more lemon juice. Some apples, like Macintosh, are softer and cook faster. Keep close watch on your apples as you precook the stuffing to avoid overcooking. 4 or 5 minutes for hard green apples is perfect, but other apples might require less time to get soft.

Basket of Delicata squash and apples, dishes of raisins and pecans
Ingredients by Mother Nature
Like all winter squash, delicata are hard and slippery when raw. So the first challenge in this recipe is how to cut the squash lengthwise (1) without injuring oneself and (2) so that both halves are more or less even. Here are some tips:

  • Use a firm surface that is significantly below elbow level for best leverage and control. A cutting board on a table works well.

  • Roll the squash around until you find a surface on which it can sit and resist rolling. If no surface seems stable, cut a little of the squash skin and flesh off to create a flat surface. This trimming can do double duty to remove any crusty skin imperfections or ground-in dirt.

  • Make a score across the middle of the top surface through the skin and about ¼ inch into the flesh with a sharp kitchen knife. Continue the score down to the blossom and stem ends, continuing to center the score.

  • Place a small cleaver in one end of the score line and tap gently with weighted rubber mallet. When a bit less than halfway through, remove cleaver and tap into the other end of squash on the score line. Repeat, alternately tapping the cleaver into each side of the score line, until squash is cut in half.

  • If you notice that your halves are looking extremely uneven when you've tapped halfway through or less, you might be able to even them out by tapping from the other side. Turn squash over, stabilizing if necessary by cutting a flat area along your original score line. Make a score in the new surface and tap as above. The two cuts will eventually meet and split the squash in half—more or less.

Stuffed squash makes a fanciful fall potluck dish and endless variations can be created. If you have a favorite recipe, please share it with us in a comment.

Serving of Apple Stuffed Squash on Plate
A Natural for Autumn
Apple Raisin Stuffed Delicata Squash
serves ~10

2 delicata squash, ~2½ lbs. total
3 -4 tart apples, about 1 lb.
1½ tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. walnut oil
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ cup raisins
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut delicata squash in half lengthwise (see tips above). Scoop out seeds and membranes until inside is smooth. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Put delicata into pan cut-side-down and add ¼ inch of water to the pan. Place in oven to precook for about 20 minutes, or until flesh can be pierced by a fork. Remove from oven and turn squash cut-side-up in pan so it can be filled.

While squash is precooking, prepare the stuffing. Peel apples and chop finely to make about 2½ cups.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in walnut oil as soon as butter melts; don’t brown butter. Stir in apples. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until apples start to get soft, about 4 – 5 minutes. They are done when the cut edges look soft and slightly mushy.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Add raisins and chopped pecans and stir to distribute evenly.

Lightly fill squash cavities with apple stuffing. Add water to pan if necessary to maintain ¼ inch depth. Return pan with stuffed squashes to 350 degree F oven. Bake for another 20 – 30 minutes, until squash is easily pierced with fork and as soft as you like.
Squash with Part of Skin cut off
Cut Squash to Make Flat Surface if Needed
Demonstration of Cutting Squash in Half
Use Small Cleaver & Weighted Mallet to Cut Squash
Baking Pan with 4 Stuffed Squash Hot from Oven
Fall Harvest Baked to Perfection

No comments:

Post a Comment