Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuffed squash

This is a great winter recipe. We’ve been getting a lot of cabbage and squash in the CSA. I’ve written this recipe calling for all fresh ingredients, but when I made it, I actually used about half a recipe of leftover plain sautéed squash in place of the fresh cabbage and brown sugar. If you make it in that manner, just stir in the cooked cabbage in the mixing bowl step and heat the assembled squash a little before broiling, so everything is warm.

Serves 8 as a side or 4 as a main course

4 acorn or kabocha squash – acorn squash has a better shape and I prefer the texture for this application.
1 c. bulgar wheat
2 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 half head green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1 t. caraway seeds
2 t. brown sugar
salt and pepper, preferably Maldon smoked sea salt
Slices cheddar cheese, preferably Cabot Hunter’s extra sharp, enough to cover the 8 squash halves.

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Cut the squashes in half at their equators. Remove the seeds and dribble some oil onto the cut sides. Use your fingers to coat all the exposed squash flesh with the oil. Place the squash, cut side down, on a foil lined baking sheet. Cook for about one hour, until the skin can be indented with a spoon. If in doubt, cook for extra time… it is difficult to overcook the squash at this step, and no one like undercooked squash.
3. Cook the bulgar: bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the bulgar, simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Melt the 2 T. butter over medium-low heat, add onions and apples and a few pinches of salt. Cook till thoroughly soft and beginning to caramelize (10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
5. Turn the heat up a little and add the garlic, cabbage, and caraway seeds. The goal is to cook the cabbage quickly (hence the thin slices). Since the cabbage is bulky, but cooks down, it is easiest to add it in a few handfuls, stirring the whole time. Cook till the cabbage it is tender, but still has a textural bite to it.
6. Combine the bulgar and the veggie-apple mixture in a mixing bowl, add in brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Undersalt a little, as we’ll add some more in the stuffing stage.
7. Assemble the roasted squash halves cut side up on the same foil covered baking sheet (you may need to pour off the juices liberated during cooking). Fill each one with the stuffing. Sprinkle a little more of the smoked sea salt on top, and finish with some slices of cheddar cheese.
8. Return to the hot over if the ingredients have cooled, otherwise, placed under preheated broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Variations – Kind of like the summer grain and veggie salad, this stuffing is very adaptable to varied vegetables and herbs. Cooked sausage or toasted nuts may also be added. A bread crumb topping could be used in place of the cheese (though I think the cheese makes this a winner!)

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