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Make room for squash

November 27, 2002|Donna Deane

SQUASH is so beautiful and abundant this time of year, it seems a shame to leave it off the Thanksgiving menu. So we created two easy dishes using especially pretty varieties: the delicata, an oblong golden squash with greenish stripes, and the sweet dumpling, a small bulbous squash striped and speckled in green and white.

Either dish can be partially made ahead. Fill the delicata halves, cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate four to six hours before baking. Peel and slice the dumpling squash the day before, seal it in a plastic bag and refrigerate until needed.

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Winter squash gratin

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 8 servings

Note: From "Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook" by Cindy Pawlcyn with Brigid Callinan (Ten Speed Press, $39.95)

3 tablespoons butter, divided

4 sweet dumpling squashes, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (about 2 pounds)

2 cups thinly sliced red onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch oval baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Arrange the sliced squashes in the dish; set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and heat until melted. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramel-colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and pour over the squash.

3. Cover and bake 15 minutes, then uncover and continue to bake until the squash is tender, 30 minutes. Pour the whipping cream evenly over the top and bake until the top begins to brown, another 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Each serving: 167 calories; 220 mg. sodium; 32 mg. cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 5.16 grams fiber.

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Delicata squash and wild rice

Total time: 2 hours

Servings: 8

Note: This recipe is from Mayi Brady of the Times Test Kitchen.

4 delicata squash (about 4 pounds)

Salt, pepper

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup cooked wild rice

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the squashes in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds. Trim about one-fourth inch off the bottom of each so it will stand up. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and dot with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Bake until very tender, about 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the brown rice, wild rice, pine nuts, dried cranberries, thyme and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Set aside.

4. Remove the squash from the oven and carefully scoop out the cooked squash; keep the shells intact. Chop the cooked squash and stir into the rice. Adjust the salt and pepper. Spoon the rice into the squash shells and set them on a baking sheet. Top each with a small piece of the remaining butter. Bake until the rice is heated through and the tops are slightly crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.

Each serving: 209 calories; 173 mg. sodium; 11 mg. cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 6.67 grams fiber.

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