Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stuffed Delicata Squash - dedicated to my mom

When my mom came to visit last month, it seemed like every stall at the Farmer's Market was loaded with delicata squash, which neither of us had ever tried before.  She commented that I'd have to figure out what to make with them, and let her know.  A few weeks later, I got two of them from my CSA, and looked up some recipes for inspiration.

A lot of people stuff them, and after cutting them open, the reason for that became pretty obvious.  They're a great size (one half a squash for a small meal, or two for a big one), they don't roll around much thanks to the ridges, and there's lots of pulpy seedy stuff in there which leaves lots of room for filling once you remove it.  Of course, many of the recipes I found involved rice, breadcrumbs, beans or other things I don't eat.  So I decided to just make it up as I went along.

Note:  This makes TOO MUCH of the meat filling mixture.  Almost twice as much as you need!  If you've got a smaller package of ground meat, or you want to make just enough, feel free to cut it down.

  • 2 delicata squash
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely diced
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat (I used beef/pork/veal mix)
  • 1 tbsp paprika (maybe more)
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs/spices (maybe more) (I love this stuff even if it's cheating)
  • 1 dash ground cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut each squash in half, remove seeds and stuff from the middle.  Place halves open-side-down on a baking sheet/pan and roast approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Cook bacon in pan over low-medium heat until crispy, set aside to cool.
  4. Sautee the onions and carrots in the bacon grease until mostly softened.
  5. Add ground meat and brown.
  6. Add spices, season to taste with salt and pepper.*
  7. Once the squash is tender when poked with a fork, fill each half with the meat mixture, heaping it slightly.
  8. Top with the reserved bacon, and sprinkle cheese on top.
  9. Put filled squash halves under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese.
*When seasoning, keep in mind that you're about to add this mixture to completely UNseasoned squash, so you may want to over-season it a little.  But don't over-SALT it too much, because you're also adding bacon and salty cheese.  It's a balancing act.

These came out so pretty, and tasty as well.  My husband initially complained because he doesn't like food with parts you can't eat - meat with bones, fruit with pits, etc.  But he ended up eating two halves, and then finishing off the leftover filling.

What I would change:  the cheese ended up forming a hard solid layer on top, which made it even harder to eat these.  I don't think they really need cheese at all, but if you wanted to add it, maybe it could be mixed with the meat, or placed in the squash before you fill it with the meat.

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