Monday, October 31, 2011

Succotash in Squash

The sight of those beautiful acorn and carnival squashes inspired me to think about something beyond sugar and cinnamon treats. It made me think about something good to be served not just for a Halloween dinner, but also good for Thanksgiving menu.

And then everything came to make sense: a Native North American classic inside a deliciously edible seasonal container.

One of my kids was not happy when he saw the "dead" acorn squash, halved and cooked, in front of him — it used to be one of his favorite good-looking squashes in his "pumpkin patch" on the rug. But soon he was convinced that the squash's fate was good, and ate all of his succotash.

As you might know, succotash can be interpreted in many ways as long as corn and white beans are included to the recipe. I mainly played with seasonings to enhance the sweetness of the corn and squash while adding a bit of a European flavor with thyme and shallots.

Succotash in Squash

Bake the squash while preparing the beans. It's a good idea to bake a whole batch of squash and sugar pumpkin to use in other recipes and freeze for later.

1 carnival squash, halved and de-seeded
1 acorn squash, halved and de-seeded
1/2 pound lima or cannellini beans, soaked overnight and cooked al dente in salty water
1/2 pound yellow corn kernels, cooked
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 bay leaves
1 medium shallot, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup cooked sugar pumpkin
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons thyme
kosher salt to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
poppy seeds, to sprinkle over the top of each squash

Bake squash halves, face-down in a baking pan with a half-inch of water, at 375 F for about one hour. You want them firm, so check after 45 minutes to see if they're ready — avoid overcooking.

While squashes are in the oven, prepare the filling. Shallow-fry shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add thyme and tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add beans and sugar pumpkin and stir. Add salt to taste, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve beans inside the baked squash. Happy eating!

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