I probably went overboard this month, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and gather as many squash and pumpkins I could find at our local markets. So far I’ve cooked with kabocha squash, delicata squash, cinderella pumpkin, baby blue hubbard, spaghetti squash and buttercup squash. This week I cooked three new varieties: Long Pie, Long Island Cheese (not cheesy at all!) and Red Kuri squash. Red kuri squash is a thickish red skinned winter squash, hailing from the cucurbita maxima family, same as the blue hubbard. The flavor is mellow, medium sweet and slightly nutty when cooked. The shape is very similar to a blue hubbard, almost teardrop like.
As I’ve noted before in my Seasonal Chef column I really encourage you to break out from the basic acorn and butternut and try a different squash. They really do have slightly different tastes and textures. The red kuri squash included. The other thing I would encourage you to do is try cooking these various squashes in different shapes and sizes.
It’s always easiest to puree into a soup or sauce, but why not roast in a cube shape and add to a salad?
After cleaning out the seeds and removing the skin cut the red kuri squash into bite size pieces. Simply toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Don’t want to let the squash go completely soft and mushy, you need it to hold up in the salad. Let the pan cool and then gently toss with a little vinaigrette.
As with most of my recipes ideas sometimes come to me organically. As the squash was roasting I noticed a pomegranate sitting in the bowl on top to the counter. I knew I had arugula from Hilltop Hanover Farm so why not try that together? The pomegranate arils are the perfect foil to anything creamy. Bright little crunchy bursts of sweet tartness. To tie it all together I had a nice piece of artisanal goat cheese from Painted Goat Farm, and for a little crunch some crushed hazelnuts.
There is no real recipe for this, per se. This is a perfect side salad for any protein or for your Thanksgiving table. Leafy greens that can work are arugula, spinach or tender mixed greens. You need to use a squash, rather than a pumpkin in this application. The red kuri squash was just perfect in flavor, but buttercup and butternut will work well too. Hazelnuts work best with most squashes, so stay with that nut. Last, do use the sherry vinegar in the vinaigrette. That will give the whole salad a nice tart bite. (One-part vinegar to two-parts olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep it simple!)
If you missed the Small Bites bloggers last Wednesday tune in tonight at 8:00 for more Thanksgiving Tips for your holiday meal. We will be live answering your questions.
You can also find me every Sunday through December at the Williams Sonoma store in White Plains. I’ll be there demoing holiday dishes and answering your cooking questions. Stop by and say hello if you happen to be in the mall.