although the weather around new york city can’t seem to decide what month we’re in, the produce in the markets these days makes sure you know it’s winter. how can you tell? by the piles of colorful winter squash! winter squash is the food network’s fall fest ingredient of the week, and i happen to love it. let me pause at this point to mention that the term winter squash refers to a wide variety of squashes such as acorn, spaghetti, kuri, kabocha, buttercup, delicata, butternut, and hokkaido. they come in reds, oranges, yellows, and greens. when cooked, some are soft and taste like a mix between pumpkin and sweet potato. others come out with a mild savory flavor and a texture like spaghetti–bet you can’t guess which one that is! but the point is that winter squash is a very versatile ingredient, and all of them lend themselves to being stuffed with delicious ingredients.
this week i was in the mood for something a little spicy, so i returned to a previous success i had in the kitchen with my turkey chorizo, taken from rick bayless’s authentic mexican. i was also trying to work my way through some of the grains in my pantry, so i added some pearl barley. finally, kale joined the mix to add color and excellent health benefits. what’s great about this dish is that with a little advance preparation the night before, you can make the stuffing while the squash is cooking, and be ready to stuff it by the time it’s done. not only does this recipe look beautiful at the table, but it also has a wonderful combination of sweet and spicy flavors to add a little zing to your winter dinner!
spiced stuffed winter squash
1 4-lb kabocha squash (or equal quantity of your favorite winter squash such as delicata or butternut)
1 bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into thin ribbons (red or green kale would work as well)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 cup pearl barley (soaked for 8 hours or overnight in cold water)
1 lb ground turkey
2 medium dried ancho chiles
2 medium dried pasilla chiles
1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp whole cloves
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1. prepare the turkey chorizo the day before to allow the meat time to marinate in the seasoning.
- Seed and de-vein the dried chiles, then heat a pan over medium-high heat and cook the chiles by pressing them flat in the pan until they begin to color and blister. remove and allow to cool until crumbly, then tear into small bits.
- in a spice grinder combine the chiles, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, and peppercorns. grind until as smooth as possible. sift into a large metal bowl. the add the nutmeg, ginger, paprika, salt, garlic, and vinegar.
- add the ground turkey and stir until well combined. allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
2. the next day, preheat the oven to 350°f.
3. cut a hole in the top of the kabocha squash in a 2-inch radius around the stem. (if you’re using an oblong squash such as a delicata or butternut, simply cut the squash in half lengthwise.) remove all the seeds and scrape out the strings from the inside of the squash.
4. roast the squash, open side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet for approximately 1 hour, or until it’s soft all the way through. remove and set aside.
4. while the squash is cooking, bring the pearl barley and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. reduce heat and simmer until al dente, about 8 minutes. drain and set aside.
5. heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. brown the seasoned turkey, stirring occasionally to expose all the turkey to the heat, about 10 minutes. remove from the pot and set aside.
5. add another 2 tbsp olive oil to the pot. then add the onion and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. add the kale and cook until slightly wilted, about 8 minutes. remove from the heat.
6. thoroughly combine the barley, chorizo, and kale mixture in a large bowl. then spoon the mixture into the squash, pressing with the back of a large spoon to make sure the stuffing is densely packed.
7. return the stuffed squash to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until heated through. serve in slices if using a kabocha-shaped squash or in halves if using an oblong squash.
For more ways to try all the different kinds of winter squash, check out:
And Love It Too: Warm Winter Chili
Bay Area Foodie: Delicata Squash Soup
The Sensitive Epicure: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Cooking Channel: Kabocha Squash Pasta
What’s Gaby Cooking: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Thursday Night Dinner: Butternut Squash Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter
Dishin and Dishes: Butternut Squash Bisque With Sage Cream
FN Dish: Simply Roasted Winter Squash