LIVING

Recipes for butternut 'bacon,' stuffed squash, salad and colourful cake

09/22/2014 01:20 EDT | Updated 11/22/2014 05:59 EST
Here are some recipes to try from "The Everyday Squash Cook" by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight and Kerry Knight.

Butternut "Bacon"

This fake "bacon" is "neat because it's easy and surprising," Firing says.

It's perfect for those following a vegan diet. Put two or three strips of butternut "bacon" on top of a serving of green salad for a simple, elegant and tasty garnish.

1 butternut squash, peeled and seeded

Grapeseed, peanut or vegetable oil

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash. Next, peel flesh into long strips, applying firm pressure for adequate thickness. Peel as many strips as you wish (6 to 8 strips per person); set aside any unused squash for another dish.

In a frying pan, heat 3 mm (1/8 inch) of oil (just enough to "float" the squash strips) over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, carefully place a few strips of squash in pan, being careful not to overcrowd.

Cook strips, flipping once, until edges are lightly browned and a little crispy, 10 to 15 seconds per side. Be careful not to overcook — dark, fully crisp "bacon" will taste burned. (Do a trial strip first as it cooks extremely quickly.)

Transfer cooked strips to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. (If cooking a large batch, keep warm in a low oven.) Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 24 to 36 "bacon" strips.

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Bacon-Wrapped Butternut Stuffed With Kale and Blue Cheese

Look for a butternut with a large base. The bigger the bowl, the more stuffing you can get into it. Not only is this dish literally stuffed with goodness, it is beautifully presented. "You take this out of the oven and people will think you're a genius," says Firing.

1 butternut squash

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

2 slices bacon

15 ml (1 tbsp) butter

50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped onion

1/2 clove garlic, minced

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) trimmed and chopped kale (centre rib removed)

2 slices rye, multigrain or sourdough bread

22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) crumbled blue cheese

Heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut round "bowl" end from squash (reserve "arm" for another use). Peel squash and discard seeds. Brush squash all over with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Drape bacon over squash, crossing at right angles to form an X. Roast for 30 minutes, basting occasionally with bacon drippings. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare stuffing: In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in kale and saute for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toast bread and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) cubes. Gently stir into kale mixture. Add blue cheese and toss to combine.

Increase oven temperature to 260 C (500 F). Turn bacon-wrapped squash cut side up on baking sheet and tuck dangling ends of bacon into "bowl." Stuff to overflowing with kale mixture.

Bake for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, cut between bacon slices.

Makes 4 servings.

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Pull-Apart Acorn Salad With Feta, Olives and Quinoa

This is one of Firing's favourite salads: it's super delicious, super healthy and fun to make (especially for those who like to get their hands a little messy). No salt is needed — the feta and olives add enough salt.

1 head radicchio, torn into pieces

1/2 acorn squash, roasted

250 ml (1 cup) cooked quinoa

30 ml (2 tbsp) crumbled feta

1 handful of green, black or mixed olives (pitted or not)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Fresh cracked black pepper

Arrange radicchio evenly over a serving platter. Using hands, pull warm squash into pieces and place it over top of radicchio. Sprinkle liberally with quinoa, feta and olives. Drizzle with oil and a few dashes of red wine vinegar. Season with pepper and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

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Butternut Cranberry Pudding Cake

Maple syrup makes this rich pudding cake studded with cranberries and golden butternut nuggets quintessentially Canadian.

250 ml (1 cup) fresh or frozen cranberries

250 ml (1 cup) diced butternut squash (1-cm/1/2-inch dice)

250 ml (1 cup) pure maple syrup

150 ml (2/3 cup) whipping (35 per cent) cream

3 ml (3/4 tsp) orange zest

2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

150 ml (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour

75 ml (1/3 cup) cornmeal

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder

2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

1 egg

45 ml (3 tbsp) granulated sugar

125 ml (1/2 cup) milk

125 ml (1/2 cup) butter, melted

5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

Creme fraiche or whipped cream

Heat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cranberries, squash, maple syrup, cream, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg and sugar. Add milk, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture and whisk to blend.

Pour warm cranberry mixture into a 23-cm (9-inch) square pan. Pour batter over top. Bake in preheated oven until golden and cranberry mixture bubbles around edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Serve topped with creme fraiche.

Makes 1 cake.

Source: "The Everyday Squash Cook: The Most Versatile and Affordable Superfood" by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight and Kerry Knight (Collins, 2014).

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