I thought I could listen to the new Avett Brothers album and write this post at the same time, but an hour later, I haven’t written a single word. I think the days of being able to listen to music while writing might be gone – my brain is too easily distracted.
Remember when you were a teenager, and you were studying with the music blaring? Your parents came in and made you turn it down, because they said there was ‘no way you could concentrate with that racket going on’, but really you could? Somehow when I was younger, my brain could do two things at the same. Well, not anymore. You were right, Mom – I can’t concentrate with loud music playing. It has taken 40 years to be true, but I figured you would want to know.
So, now the music is off, and I can turn my attention to the treatment of a few of these fantastic Delicata winter squashes our garden produced this year. Delicatas have become a favorite of ours, because of their delicious sweet and rich flesh. They are similar to acorn squash, but with a deeper flavor and without the deep ridges that can acorn difficult to prepare. I have seen lot of recipes for both Delicata and acorn squash that say the skins are edible, but we aren’t so crazy about that idea, but you may find that you enjoy them, and with this recipe you can go either way.
Last fall, I posted a recipe for a side dish using these squash: Maple Glazed Delicata Squash, but today, I have a main course that comes in a nice neat little package – the squash itself. It’s an easy meal to prepare, but is full of complex and rich flavor. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, to become another dinner, and maybe a lunch as well, or can be frozen if you wrap them nice and tight so they can’t get freezer burnt.
It’s immensely satisfying to put a meal like this together when nearly all the ingredients come right from your own gardens, especially since it’s hard to maintain my hermit ways if I have to run to town for groceries all the time. On the other hard, it’s all easily obtainable if you don’t have the space to grow your own veggies. I see Delicata squash in most supermarkets and at Farmer’s Markets, but if you can’t find them, acorn squash is a good substitute.I’m not going to blow sunshine up your skirt and tell you that this is a any sort of fast or simple thing to throw together on a busy weeknight. Not at all. I see it rather as a Saturday meal, on a cool fall evening, when you have friends over who like to share the kitchen and maybe chop a few vegetables, or stir things a bit between sips of wine. There is nothing difficult or challenging about the process, but it does take a little time. That’s where the wine comes in handy, you know?
- Stuffed Delicata Squash
- 3 Delicata Squash
- ½ cup brown rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Several tablespoons olive oil
- 1 stalk celery, cut in a small dice
- ½ medium onion, cut in a small dice
- About ⅓ each red and green bell peppers, cut in a
- medium dice
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups kale, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 cup plain tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, rough chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, rough chopped
- 4-5 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chop
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, slightly chopped
- Wash and dry the outside skin of the squash, and cut each of them in half the long way. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and place cut sides
- down on a parchment lined heavy baking sheet. Roast at 350º for about 40 minutes.
- Place the rice and 1 cup of water, plus a pinch of salt into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes – remove from heat, leave lid on and set aside. It will not be entirely cooked, but will finish in the oven.
- Drizzle a couple tablespoons olive oil in a wide sauté pan, and bring up to a high heat. Place chunks of the ground turkey around the pan, leaving a bit of space around them, or they won't brown. Keep on high heat for a few minutes until the bottom side is nicely colored.
- Lower heat a bit, add celery, onion, bell peppers and garlic, and stir to break up the ground turkey. Season generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- After about 5 minutes, add the kale, tomato sauce and water. Cover pan and steam together for about 5 minutes.
- Remove cover from pan, add the cooked rice, and herbs, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes to let flavors blend and evaporate most of the liquid from the pan. Stir in
- pine nuts, and remove from heat.
- Turn the roasted squash halves cut side up and fill with stuffing, dividing mixture evenly. You may have to pack it down a little, but try to mound up the top a little.
- Roast in 350º oven for about 30 minutes.
- In an open skillet, toast 1 cup fresh bread crumbs in a teaspoon or so of butter. Remove squash from the oven, top each half with a bit of the bread crumb topping, and grate some Pecorino Romano over the bread crumbs
- Return to the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the tops, as well as some warm tomato sauce.
It’s almost worth letting go of warm weather, isn’t it?