While I lament saying goodbye to the juicy tomatoes, sweet corn and other wonderful summer New Jersey produce, a chill in the air offers an opportunity to welcome back enticing fall produce, including winter squashes and pumpkins. Small squashes, like this carnival squash, are not just pretty to look at, but they’re delicious too – kind of like an acorn squash that’s variegated. For me, squashes and pumpkins provide the perfect receptacle for stuffing, and hopefully you’ll try one of these three recipes. This first one can be vegetarian if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth – and features a risotto with kale, mushrooms and chunks of squash.
For the bread and sausage stuffing, you’ll need to bake it again for about 30 minutes, at about 400 degrees. For the pastina and the risotto stuffing, no further cooking is needed. Just slice into it and enjoy.
Stuffed Squash and Pumpkins
Printable Recipe Here
Choose small pumpkins or squash. Cut a circle on the top and extricate the stringy parts and seeds. I find a grapefruit spoon helps a lot here. Oil the interior, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put the lids back on (it helps to steam the interior) and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. If you’re serving it with the pastina or the risotto, you might want to bake it the full hour (or until tender enough to eat). For the bread/sausage stuffing, you’ll be placing it in the oven again, so 45 minutes should suffice.
This makes enough to fill 2 to 3 small pumpkins or squash
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery, minced
3 T. olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage
about 4 cups bread, cubed (use a sturdy Italian bread)
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until limp. Take the casing off the sausage and cook with the vegetables until barely cooked through. Drain off some of the fat, but not all. Add the bread, parsley, salt, pepper, and apple and combine. Whisk the egg in a bowl, then add it to the stuffing ingredients and mix through. Place stuffing inside pumpkin and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep the lid off to get a nice browning on the top. If it looks like it’s getting browned too quickly, lower temperature to 350 degrees.
pastina or acini di pepe
chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
I don’t give quantities for this because you can be free and loose with it, depending on how much squash you want to use, how liquidy you want the pastina, etc.
Roast some squash in the oven by rubbing with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking for about 1/2 hour at 375 degrees. Cut into small pieces. When I roast squash, I usually make enough to have leftovers the next day.
Simmer the pastina in some chicken broth until cooked through, and add the squash pieces to the pastina. Make it to the consistency you like by adding more or less chicken broth. To me, it tastes best and looks best when it’s almost like a porridge, and not too liquidy. Sprinkle with a little fresh thyme, grated parmesan cheese and pour into individual pumpkins.
This makes enough to fill three or four small pumpkins or squash
1 cup arborio rice
3 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 leaves lacinato kale or any other type of kale
1 cup squash or pumpkin, cut into small pieces
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, hot
about 1 cup cheese (you could use parmesan, cheddar or fontina – any cheese that melts well. I used a cheese called Herdsman, freshly made from Cherry Grove Farms, not far from Princeton in Lawrenceville, N.J.)
Saute the onion in the oil and butter. Add the mushrooms and saute slightly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and stir some more. Add the kale, cut into small pieces and the squash or pumpkin. Add the hot broth, a ladle-full at a time, and stir after each addition. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Add the cheese, but reserve some for the top. Pour into the pumpkin or squash, sprinkle with a bit of the reserved cheese, and serve.