Wednesday, February 7

Squash's Swan Song

Growing up in New England, I’ve always anticipated the arrival and lamented the passing of the seasons. Having lived in Southern California for a few years now, I’ve come to realize that there are no seasons here. Oh, sure, we pretend it’s winter by donning our wooly knitted scarves, but then undermine any attempt at credibility by pairing them with flip-flops and oversized Channel sunglasses.

Now, I realize it’s February, and squash and yams had their leading roles back during Thanksgiving dinner. But, I’m sure most of you still have some around and might like a new recipe or two. If you do, then check out a simply delicious squash soup at Cookiecrumb's hilarious site I'm Mad and I Eat (01.Feb.07 post). I've also got a couple of recipes up my sleeve that will enliven these former ingenues with some seasonal citrus.

This is my recipe for squash; on my next post, I’ll share one for yams. Since roasting vegetables causes their natural sugars to caramelize into a satisfyingly sweet delight, it remains my favorite method of preparation. With the sugary, chewy dates in this dish you could practically call it dessert. Okay, even I don’t believe that. Just eat this, then eat chocolate.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds
Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 medium acorn squash or other winter squash (about two cups)
2 tsp butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp brown sugar
The juice of ½ small lemon (about 1 tsp)
A little bit of lemon zest
A pinch of ground cinnamon
5-6 Medjool dates,* coarsely chopped
¼ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1-2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Some salt and pepper, to taste

To toast the almonds, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly golden and aromatic.

Bump up the heat in the oven to 375 degrees. Roast the squash face side down for 35-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, and let cool. Scoop out the cooked flesh, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, sauté shallots in butter until slightly caramelized. Add brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cinnamon. Add the cooked squash, and mix well by hand. (You can puree it at this point if you like, but I prefer a lumpy texture). Stir in the dates, and season well with salt and black pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped almonds and fresh parsley. Garnish with more almonds and parsley before serving.


*TIP: Medjool dates are sweeter than most varieties, and have a soft, creamy texture and deep amber-brown color. I usually buy them at the farmers’ market, but Trader Joe’s and all major markets sell them. If you can’t find them, then just substitute a different variety.

36 comments:

valentinA ® said...

Hi Susan!
Thanks for popping in, I hope you don't mind, I've linked you on my blog, yours is just irresistible!
I never heard of Acorn squash, but it sure looks yummy!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan,

Your post reminded of a friend from work - we have lunch together and I grab a fruit salad as dessert, most of time. She says that fruit is not dessert. :)

This dish is a great way of having squash - and adding almonds and dates are such a different touch, I like it!

Lis said...

Oh that looks so creamy and good! Thanks for sharing the recipe =)

JB said...

I cannot recommend Gordon Ramsay's recipe for pumpkin and pancetta risotto enough. I substitute squash for the pumpkin because it's so much easier to work with.

http://urbandrivel.blogspot.com/2006/10/butternut-squash-and-pancetta-risotto.html

Linda said...

wow this looks amazing!!! i am sooo in the mood for squash lately too! i just made a butternut squash soup yesterday that i'll be posting soon enough but still have a perfectly ripe acorn squash sitting on my counter. i'm making this one tonight!

isabilla said...

ciao Susan!
thanks for you visit!

humm I love zucca, ma..
what's the difference between "pumpkin" and "squash"?
grazie e ciao!!

wheresmymind said...

Flip flops...damn you traitor for leaving us with this fricken cold temperature!! *grin*

Julie said...

Johnny Carson used to say that southern California's four seasons were flood, mud, drought, and fire. Ages ago when I lived in southern California for a few years that always struck me as darned accurate.

Your squash picture is lovely.

cookiecrumb said...

Mm, that *is* dessert.
We're fooling ourselves if we think the squash/yam weather isn't over yet. Have you seen all the comfort soup recipes springing up this month?

Toni Narins, L.Ac. said...

I adore squash in all it's forms, and this looks absolutely fabulous!! I love medjool dates, but I've never considered pairing them with squash - great idea!

You should check out the carrot ginger soup on my blog - at the end I considered the possibility of adding some butternut squash.

sher said...

What a wonderful recipe! I love everything about it, particularly the Medjool dates. My husband and I are addicted to them. I'm looking forward to what you write about them in the future.

And thank you so much for letting me know that my URL wasn't showing on my profile! THANK YOU! :):)

Asha said...

Hi Susan,your 'food blogga' is cool too!:)) I love Squash,I cooked Butternut Squash yesterday.This dish looks fabulous,love the color.I am not familiar with those Medjool dates,got to get some and taste it!

gilly said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for the comments on my site - just dropping in to check yours out! I love it! And squash has to be one of my favourite veggies, so it was a real treat to be greated with this post and recipe!

Susan said...

Valentina-
Thank you! I am flattered by your compliments.
BTW-Acorn squash tastes silimar to butternut, but it has a green skin (sometimes tinged with orange)and a yellowy-orange flesh. They're delicious--try some!

Patricia-
Dates and any kind of nuts are fabulous! Thanks!

Lis-
Ooh, thanks!

JB-
Thanks for the recipe! Gordon Ramsay is fantastic!

Linda-
Awesome! Can't wait to see your soup!

Isabilla-
According to my good friend Wikipedia.com, squashes are also called pumpkins and are in the same family. I prefer squash because I think they are less watery when cooked and much more flavorful. Thanks for the visit! Ciao!

Jeff-
As I sit here in my tank top and flip-flops... ;)

Julie-
Thanks for the fantastic Johnny Carson quote! You're right, it is darned accurate.

Cookiecrumb-
I have seen them. But the asparagus and strawberries at the farmers' market give me hope!

Toni-
I hope you give the dates a try with the squash. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Sher-
You're so welcome! Long live the Medjool!

Asha-
Thanks so much! You simply must try Medjools. Like Sher said, they are addictive!

Gilly-
Yeh! I made you feel welcome on your first visit! Thanks so much for stopping by!

veron said...

Hi susan, this is an awesome combination, I'm sure it was very tasty. Can't wait to see what you are going to do with the yams.

T.W. Barritt said...

Susan,

Love your storytelling style! And the squash is mouthwatering!

Susan said...

Veronica-
Thanks! Hope you'll like the yams too.

T.W.-
You make me smile! Thanks so much!

Lucy said...

Susan - how delicious. Can't wait to make this when autumn arrives. Beautiful food, as always!

sailaja said...

Thanks for dropping by, Susan.

We don't get Mejdool dates out here in this part of the world..:(. Love the color of the dish!

rachel said...

That looks so great! I have been trying to make more squash recipes. I bought a spaghetti squash a few weeks ago but it just sat and I never figured out what I wanted to try with it.

Kirsten said...

Hi Susan,

I LOVE your blog. :)

It was almost 80 today, so my faux-scarf wearing days are nearing an end. We can't even fake it anymore here in AZ.

Thanks for stopping by my blog - so happy to have been introduced to yours!

Kirsten

Susan said...

Lucy-
Thanks so much! Hope you do!

Sailaja-
You're welcome! Sorry to hear about the Medjools. Are you able to get any dates at all?

Rachel-
Thanks! Let me know if you try it with the spaghetti squash.

Kristen said...

That looks really good. I have to say... there is something about that final picture that really draws me in. I love it!

Mikaela said...

Lovely photos :)

Melting Wok said...

Susan, this is quite similar to some chinese sweet potato dessert I'm accustomed to, but I don't use herbs & spices, we simply mix some brown sugar, honey or small crystallized sugar. Sometimes, I would add a pinch of salt, nutmeg and cinnamon for the extra flavor. Your squash recipe is very versatile, thx for sharing :)

Riana said...

Hi Susan,
wow, this looks great! Thanks for coming by my blog, I've added you to may google reader.

Susan said...

Kirsten-
You're welcome, and thanks for the compliment! Yup, sounds like it's time to put the faux winter gear away. :)

Kristen-
Ooh, thanks so much!

Mikaela-
Thanks!

Melting Wok-
So it really is dessert! Thanks for sharing.

Riana-
You're welcome! I appreciate your visit and the link!

Anali said...

This recipe looks great and love the picture! Such a pretty little dish!

Gattina said...

what a beautiful dish, add some colors to these boring wintery days too! I love yam, will stay tune *wink*

bazu said...

Oh, that looks maddeningly beautiful! I think I *would* call it dessert- and love every bite. Can't wait to see the yams! The thing I like best about the changing seasons is the different seasonal produce.

Susan said...

Anali-
I found this dish in Home Goods; I love it.

Gattina-
Thanks. Hopefully the yams will dress up nicely too.

Bazu-
It is pathetic, though, when my squash dish actually looks better than I do.

cookingchat said...

I love acorn squash, and this looks good. My favorite recipe for it is from Vegetarian Planet, basically combines roasted acorn squash, roasted garlic and cheese with penne. Yumm.

Susan said...

Cookingchat-
Sounds delicious.

terry B said...

Susan--Saw you jokingly coveting my cast iron skillets on Nicola's clafouti post. Trust me, they're overrated. All that seasoning [and reseasoning when they inevitably rust]. And they don't tend to play well with acidic foods and liquids.

Rachael said...

Mmmmmm, this looks absolutely lovely! The thing is that I've had dried dates sitting around for several weeks now and can't decide what to do with them. There's also a two week old acorn squash on my counter - I hope it's still good! This recipe will be the perfect way to use it up!!

Susan said...

Terry B.-
Good, now I don't feel so bad. ;)

Rachael-
Thanks so much! I guess it's fate!

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