Eloquent Winter Squash
Goodness gracious! I’ve left you all without a proper food post for far too long. The pace of life just gets away from me sometimes, you know? Setting up the Etsy shop and making teas was more time consuming than I’d hoped, but since both are such instant successes, I’m not complaining. By the way, I know some of you will be happy to know that I’m going to be placing a handful of teas on my Etsy shop (www.lovenfresh.etsy.com) this coming weekend so be sure to stop over there if you’d like to try some for yourself or to give to others.
Now, about that food post: I’ve got a dandy for you. Too bad it’s the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house cooks are already scurrying about with their preparations as this recipe for Baked Winter Squash with Blue Cheese & Candied Pecans is just begging for a prominent place on the holiday table. Maybe you have a winter squash hanging out on your counter already and you’d be so bold as to change your plans for it at the very last minute? Hmmm? I promise you won’t regret it!
Both the taste and the texture of this dish are complex and rich as silky sweet squash bumps into tangy blue cheese crumbles and crunchy nutty warmly spiced candied pecans all in one perfect bite. When made in individual servings in small ramekins or even ovenproof mugs, the presentation makes it almost too endearing to eat. It would surely impress your holiday dinner guests. My private party for two certainly did enjoy every last bite of it.
Butternut squash was my winter squash of choice for this dish, but pretty much any of them will do just fine. I recently heard a good trick for discerning which squash-type-thingies to choose for cooking when you’re someplace that doesn’t have good signage to guide the way. Look at where the squash’s stem connects to the rest of its body: if it bulges out a little bit so the stem has a bit of a collar at its base, that’s a good squash for eating. Cool tip, huh?
Now, before I leave you to your culinary scamperings on the eve of this most important food holiday of the year, I must insist that you do me a favor. Please make the candied pecans, both for this dish and for a snack – a highly-addictive-nearly-problematic snack – as they really are the proverbial icing on the cake. Plain ol’ pecans just won’t do.
And tomorrow, when I’m enjoying so many good dishes and time with loved ones, if someone asks me what I’m thankful for, I will certainly mention the good company I keep here at this blog. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Baked Squash with Blue Cheese & Candied Pecans
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 small butternut squash
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ C. brown sugar
¼ t. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
½ t. extra virgin olive oil
1 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1 oz. candied pecans (follow link for easy recipe)
If you are making your own candied pecans for this recipe (which I highly recommend), begin that process first and they’ll be ready in time for serving the squash.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you are having a difficult time with it, you can cut its “neck” off and cut the skinny and fat parts separately. Place the squash halves cut side down in a microwave-safe baking dish and cover with wax paper. Microwave on high/full power until a sharp knife can slide easily through the skin and flesh, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to cool.
When the squash is cool enough to easily handle, scoop out the seeds and discard. Then scrape the soft flesh out of the skin and into a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash the flesh a bit to loosen it up. Add the salt, pepper, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and oil. Vigorously mix with the fork until everything is well-combined and smooth.
Preheat the oven to 250 F. Spray two small ramekins with non-stick spray and evenly divide the squash mixture between them, smoothing it out on top with the back of the spoon. Top with blue cheese. Place in oven and heat through (if you are making the pecans, you can just slide the ramekins in next to them), about 15 minutes.
Top each ramekin with a few pecans and serve immediately.