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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Squashed Doubts

It's looking more like winter here now--last night, while I was cooking dinner, snow gently drifted down while failing to amount to much of anything.  I remain excited to see the snow, even isolated flakes of it, but David is insistent that if his fall biking is over, it had better snow enough to start skiing.

The view out our dining-room window in late afternoon.
I'm in rehearsal most nights after work and both days on the weekend, so there's no chance I could ski even if I was good at skiing, which I'm not.  That's a task I add to my to-do list every winter:  get better at cross-country skiing.  And every winter, without fail, something more interesting and/or pressing comes along.

You heard it here:  this is the year.

Last night was the last Friday night I will be home before the show opens the day after Thanksgiving.  I didn't know what I was going to make when I came home, so I did one of my patented pantry raids* where I survey the refrigerator and pantry and try to come up with something fabulous.  Fortunately, it was CSA box week, so the odds were increasingly good that I would come up with something worth eating to go with the lamb chops David bought.

When we schedule what to receive in the CSA box, I always try to order things that either I'm not going to find in Alaska or that I've never cooked with before.  One of these things is Delicata squash, which I had never even tasted.  Not a clue what to do with it.

I'm so attracted to color--admit it, this is one pretty squash.
News flash:  Delicata squash, while slightly sweet, makes the perfect basis for a savory fall side dish. 

Twice-Baked Delicata Squash
Adapted from a Recipe by Ruben Gomez

2 Delicata squash, ends trimmed, halved and with seeds removed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 leek, white and green parts only, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
4 tbsp. breadcrumbs, preferably fresh
2 tbsp. reduced-fat milk
1.5 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (I grated my own;  nutmeg from a jar will be fine)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Take each half of squash and brush it with olive oil;  sprinkle with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet or other oven-safe pan.  Cook for twenty minutes, then flip the squash halves over and cook for another twenty minutes.

While the squash is cooking, make the stuffing.  Warm the remaining olive oil in a small skillet and warm it;  add the leeks and sauté until lightly golden.  Add the pine nuts and sauté until the nuts are lightly toasted.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

Combine 1/2 cup of the cheese, along with the breadcrumbs and thyme, in a medium bowl.  When the squash is done, gently scoop out the flesh, taking care not to tear the skins.  Add the scooped-out squash to the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture.  Add the milk and fold to combine well.

Fill the squash skins with the stuffing and sprinkle the remaining cheese over them.  Bake for another eight to ten minutes until the stuffing is warmed through the cheese on top melts.

Serves four;  could easily be doubled.

*Sorry, bad pun, but an accurate description.  Picture me racing back and forth between my pantry and the refrigerator trying to determine what can be combined to make a decent dish.


  1. I have some butternut squash wish would fill in - it's a little stronger. And it does sing that it's autumn. I am in denial that winter is coming and gave up my skis for good.

  2. Ooh, that looks wonderful! Perfect on a cold day indeed, I'll save this recipe for when the snow hits us here :)

  3. Ooooh! Great idea. I didn't even realize you could twice bake something other than a potato! Duh! :)

  4. Nice outcome with the squash and the pics of the recipe looks tempting.

  5. This looks amazing! I love the idea of twice baking it.

  6. Love the method of preparation here! Also your ingredient list does have lots of goodies in it-this needs to be on my dinner table. Delicious-thanks for sharing.

  7. Now, you keep that snow up north!!! But I'll happily take your squash...great idea!

  8. Squash intimidates me for some reason. I could chase away a hard of bandits bare handed but I get that deer-in-the-headlights look when it comes to squash! Eek! Thank you for sharing this recipe with photos it helps me overcome my hesitation. This may be appearing on my dinner table very soon...

  9. This looks so yummy! I don't think I've ever had a delicata squash, but what a great idea to twice-bake it!

  10. That looks so amazing! Terrific idea to do a twice baked!