My squash journey this month continues with the big blue hubbard variety. They come in generally two sizes: big and giant. The big, or “baby” blue hubbard, weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. The regular size, pictured at the top of this post, can weigh upwards of 20 to 30 pounds. The good news about that is the amount of squash you get, and can use over the course of the winter.
Blue hubbard squash, a member of the curcurbita maxima species, has a soft blue-grey color with a very hard inedible shell. The hard shell makes this an ideal squash to last though the long winter. In a cool dry spot it’s been known to last up to six months! The best way to break open a blue hubbard is to place it in a large plastic or paper bag and drop it on the ground. The shell is pretty tough to cut it with a knife. The best way to prepare this squash is by simply roasting it, and then giving it a run through your food processor to smooth it out. The texture is a little on the denser side, similar to an acorn or butternut, and the flavor is sweet.
I recently picked up a baby blue hubbard from the Gaia’s Breath Farm table at Gossett’s, and decided to give it a whirl. For the sake of information, that is the Cinderella pumpkin I wrote about last week, also grown by Gaia’s Breath. My baby blue hubbard weighed in at 5 pounds 2 ounces, and when cleaned of it’s seeds and innards dropped to 4 pounds 14 ounces. After roasting I ended up with 4 cups of pureed squash. So figure about 1 cup per 1 pound, on average. Find yourself a little time over the weekend and make your own puree. (You will thank me later!) Most of the cooking is inactive, as the oven is doing all the work. Cool, puree and place in 2 cup containers and freeze. There is nothing better than fresh baked squash for your recipe. Is it easier to open a can? Of course, BUT this is just about the purest way to enjoy this vegetable.
Last week with my Cinderella puree I made a really tasty Fresh Pumpkin Pasta Sauce recipe. This week I decided to see how the blue hubbard would fare in a stuffed pasta, and I was pleasantly surprised. In my recipe-testing exercise I made the first batch in manicotti tubes and the second batch in shells. Either way, it works beautifully. It’s really all about what you want to see on the plate.
The big part of this dish is the sauce. Starting from a beschamel, one of the five mother sauces, I added an egg yolk. It’s not entirely necessary to add the yolk, but I was looking for a really creamy texture to the sauce, and the egg provides that.
A few things to keep in mind while making the sauce: you want to have your milk warm, not ice cold. This will keep the roux from seizing up.
Second, you want to the temper the yolk before adding it to the milk. The last thing you want to do is have shreds of scrambled egg in your sauce.
Take a few minutes and read through the entire recipe. While it looks like a lot of steps, it’s really pretty easy and all about multi-tasking. You might want to make the squash part separate, but that’s not really necessary. While the squash is baking you can get all the rest of the components together, and then add in the 2 cups of puree at the end.
This is also a great do-ahead dish. Get the whole thing together and refrigerate or freeze it. Then follow the baking instructions when you are ready to serve.
Click this link to see my recipe for Squash Stuffed Pasta.
Squash and pumpkins are everywhere right now. Pick a few up and give them a try.