Harlequin Squash, Apple and Sage Stuffing

Another year, another stuffing recipe.

Harlequin stuffing, familiar? We’re back with another potato recipe, traditional Irish recipe at that, being converted into a harlequin one. This time we’ve ditched the sausage and opted for apple. Now, less of this we, dear reader, it’s my show. I found I couldn’t tolerate pork, doubt I ever could, why? Who knows. Why is there so much Jack can’t eat and yet he has so many recipes? He’s a wonder, humble too. Stuffing varies from place to place, I see it often online as this bread cube lumpy concoction and that isn’t the stuffing I grew up with. This is childhood taste revisited, or as close as I can make it. Stuffing was mashed potato, onion, sage, rarely fresh, but I like it fresh, and sausage. It was billowy, creamy and crusty on top and delicious. It has been a long time since I have had it. Last year I made a meat version, this year, aside from the butter but margarine could replace, I never list until I’ve tried and soy allergy stops that trial, but you’re creative dear readers, I know you’ll manage. Er, rambling there, sorry, aside from the butter it could easily be vegan. I tried it unbaked and it is worth making. Tomorrow I’ll bake it and add a photo if I remember.

Rake the tops and hope for crusty stuffing. The taste of childhood revisited.

So, yeah, addressing the giant berry in the room, you need harlequin for this. It’s the best potato substitute I’ve ever eaten. It’s dry at first when you’ve freshly steamed it, but add the buttery onion and apple, a delicious aromatic variation I have to admit, and suddenly it’s this creamy, fluffy mixture. My sage wasn’t in it’s prime and I had to add a little dried to up the taste, but you could use all dry if you can’t get fresh, use a third of what’d you use in fresh. Three ingredients are from my garden. The squash, sage and onion. There is a huge benefit over the pork version, you can freeze this. My Mother warmed me of freezing sausage meat and I stay away from it, this though can be frozen. Handy as it does make quite a bit. I went by the squash, but you can adjust it as you see fit. Try other vegetables and let me know how it fared. I’ll see you again, dear reader.

Ingredients

375g Harlequin Squash, Peeled and Cubed
125g Cooking Apple, Peeled and Chopped Fine
50g Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
16-20 Fresh Sage Leaves, Chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Makes about four 170g Servings

Method

1. Steam the Harlequin Squash and place into a bowl, Mash and set aside.

2. Chop the Onion and Apple finely and fry in Butter until Onion is translucent and Apple tender. Add the Onion and Apple mix, Sage, Salt and Pepper to the Harlequin Squash and mash everything together. Taste test and add more Sage, Dried if there’s no more Fresh, if required.

3. Scoop mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth down. Bake at 200c (Fan) for half an hour. For a crispier top grill for the final 5 minutes. If freezing divide and freeze in tin trays.

Creamy and delicious.

Baked Harlequin Squash Fries

I was going to julienne it with the peeler.

Yeah, I, er, cut my finger, skinned the tip a bit, nothing major, but I seem to be making a tradition of this. The peeler just snagged on the small squash and, yeah, if any of this isn’t quite coherent then I’m laying blame on the finger whether it was that or not. You could say I’m pointing the finger…don’t cry, dear reader, I’ll stop making bad jokes someday. So, here we are a again, another harlequin squash another recipe, it is just a tweak of my sweet potato fries, but there’s rosemary and it’s harlequin squash, it’s never not amazing when it harlequin squash.

More or less rosemary to taste.

So, not much here, which means there’s not much leeway, if you keep things as even as possible, not easy when you consider the shape and hollow cavity of the squash after peeling and de-seeding, then you won’ have to worry about uneven cooking. This can be tweak with any spices you like, but I enjoy the simple taste of  fresh harlequin squash, the crispy crunch and he soft interior. This is why I grow them, these simple recipes that showcase its strengths. I have no need for potatoes when I have squash like this. They do resemble McDonald’s fries a bit, don’t they. I should’v called it a copycat recipe and become world renowned. It could happen, shush. Nothing stopping you using any squash this way, but only harlequin seems to crunch up like this. Maybe I’m wrong, if I am tell me of other squash, I’m always on the look out for new varieties. I’l see ou again soon, dear reader.

These posts are scheduled, by the time you see this my finger will probably be healed.

Ingredients

1 Medium Harlequin Squash, Around 400g
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to Taste

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (Fan) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

2. Peel the Harlequin Squash, remove the seeds with a spoon and slice them lengthways, each slice should be about about half a centimetre thick, then cut them into half centimetre strips. Add to a plastic bag, season to taste then drizzle in the Olive Oil. Shake everything until the Harlequin Squash Fries are coated.

3. Spread out over the prepared tray. Making sure there’s plenty of room between the fries. If making a large batch use two trays. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. until the Harlequin Squash is dry and crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate and let cool for a minute or two. Harlequin Squash will crisp up more as it cools.

Haggard, Hardened and Productive

Wait, what date was this harvest?

No, not me! I’m beautif… have an honest face. You shut up. I feel the need to type, dear reader, will you then go with me on a verbal journey, not an overly verbose or deep one, just to the garden to admire the marvels of production, the harlequin squash? Cast your mind back to the chaotic first year, I, naive, young…inexperienced, budding Jack had been told of the marvellous ease that squash grew with. Then the hailstones came, the frost came, the powdery milDEW CAME! Ahem, no I’m fine, that first year I will ever and always recall harvesting my first squash, lifting it gingerly for fear of breaking, I still hold the same reverence for them now, that and I’m clumsy at the best of times, lifting it slowly from the plant, which came up with the squash because it was dead. How they ever grew that year I will never know. Care and diligence, perhaps. T’was love, dear reader, love did grow the squash! Or tomato feed, probably the feed. The second year led to the discovery that with good weather came a second harvest. This year has been a mixture, but thankfully there will be a second harvest, barring some unfortunate occurrence.

Like me falling on them while taking photos.

They’re growing at all angles.

One thing you will notice is how ugly and gnarled the plants become over time. The lowest layer of leaves dies away and you have to let them seal up, they’re hollow tubes, so no infection can make its way into the plant, which rest on a single, fairly narrow stem. The bad weather is causing the powdery mildew, though I’m treating them, it never vanishes. There’s dust blowing where it has dried, but it’s still there. The squash is growing at all angles now, harlequin seems to enjoy spreading out, there are huge tendrils with more leaves and flowers and fruits all spilling every which way. I love it, really I do.

I tried pruning last year and it’s a waste of time.

They can ripen very swiftly.

I’m currently at six harvested, two table king and four harlequin. The table king made a delicious, simple pasta sauce. Next I’ll be making cottage pies. What I’ve done this year is give them a dose of nettle and comfrey tea while the next fruit setting starts, it’s less balance, more general than geared towards fruit, but I’m hoping the it’ll give them a boost and maybe, just maybe, there might be third harvest. It can’t hurt that much. I don’t want them putting out too much green at this stage, but they’ll need to bloom for a third time if I want more squash after this. I did warn that I’d wax eloquent endlessly on squash, didn’t I, dear reader? I enjoy it and thankfully you can skip past this when you want.

Quite a few danglers this year.

Another is wedged between two lids and a block.

I do dispose of the lids after using, you never know what they might be retaining and it’d be  waste to damage a squash because you didn’t want to get a fresh coffee cup lid. Kindly donated by anywhere that has them. I do all I can to keep them happy and healthy, but I think there’s a point where the plant can grow no further, where it’s used more than it’s stored and just stops. I’d like to harvest them all year-round, but I’ll settle for the weeks or months of harvesting. It’s an enjoyable time, in no way diluted by repetition. I’ll be back again soon, dear reader.

All that growth with such a thin centre.

Mounding the earth around it at the beginning helps so much with stability.

The second growth never quite matches the first.

A Fool, A King and Jack

I couldn’t wait another day.

Last year I grew golden nugget squash alongside my harlequin and with each successive squash I grew more and more disappointed. They seemingly had no resistance to bad weather other than to harden up so much that a hammer bounced off the skin. You can imagine that I wear leary and weary of cutting into my huge table king squash, my first ever table king no less. Though the knife did stick, it’s a very large squash, I’m more than happy to report that acorn style squashes will be what I’ll be growing from here on out.

“Wait, another squash tasting post?” Don’t cry, dear reader.

You know these posts feel like an alternative world version of those paid for product reviews. These are squashes grown from seeds I paid for, taken care of by me and eaten solely by me. The reason I’m sharing? Well, you never know who it might help, be it a prospective gardener wondering what they should plant, a curious shopper recalling a post like this when they stumble across freshly stocked squash. Last year I hadn’t much opportunity to compare the squashes, I’ve been eating harlequin for three years now, but this is the first year I could really compare freshly grown squash to store bought as I have a more varied selection and more experience.

I just sauteed a sample not a whole squash….this time.

If I were pad by the word I’d be a rich, rich Jack. As I am, well, I’m rich in spirit and I have squash so it balances out. So, what was my second squash like? The first thing I noticed, even when raw, was that the flesh is so creamy, it has none of that slimy hardness that you sometimes find with squash. They are stored so it’s unsurprising there’d be a difference with my fresh, but it’s such a great divide, they’re like two different berries. As you can see I tried a little coked and I can say if you can’ get harlequin then a table king wouldn’t be a bad replacement for potato, it was quite as crispy and crumbled as the harlequin, but it did have a lovely fluffy interior with a crispy shell. I made it into a pasta sauce with shallots. This was just one squash, I’ll be trying them as many ways as I can with what I have.

You get about half the weight after peeling.

It always looks like custard to me. The taste is pretty mild, pleasant in it’s own way, but I’d like this with some kind of seasoning. If I have a smaller one I may roast it with cinnamon or honey, something sweet. There’s not much else to say, but I’m really pleased with my choice of secondary squash this year. I love putting something away in the freezer made with fresh produce, I’d never use it all at once anyway and this way, in the Winter when everything is going dormant I’ll have all these wonderful flavours to enjoy. That’s all for today…oh, my seven feet, at least, artichokes fell over, I nearly crippled myself righting them. They better flower next year or, nah, I’ll keep them, they’re fun to look at. See you later, dear reader.

The roma are starting to ripen too. The plants are sagging dangerously. Next year: Tepees!

Butternut Squash Cottage Pie

Slowly replacing photos, dear reader. I managed to get four harlequin squash topped cottage pies and a further fifteen servings of pesto, so Jack is well stocked up for the squashless, basilless Winter.

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Pie sans filling.

With harlequin squash topping.

August 2017 Update:

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Sauteed Harlequin Squash

The knife is for chopping and deterring. It’s mine I tells ya! ALL MINE!

You know, dear reader, I like to be thorough. I like to take my time when posting recipes. Take this for example, I wasn’t sure if it was worth posting as a standalone. That was last year, a year later and I feel sure it is worthwhile. You think I’m joking, right? Hah…nope. Jack is ever constant and patient. You see with a recipe like this here is no wiggle room substitute any other vegetable and you’ll lose what makes this so worthy of note. Am I suggesting that you grow your own harlequin squash? Well, yeah. It’s really that amazing. I’ve been growing them for three years now and I’m still marvelling at the texture and taste of these little wonders. Why just today I ate an entire squash, don’t do that, they’re really filling, but it was worth it. I am filled with contentment. Don’t poke me or the contentment might leak out.

I really shouldn’t have eaten an entire squash…but it was so good.

So, what makes this different from your garden variety, you know what I mean!, squash? Texture, texture and that other important thing: Versatility! I have run the gauntlet of harlequin squash and have never found myself disappointed in its savoury applications. Sweet isn’t where it excels. Today I’l just talk on these little golden hued nuggets of absolute satisfaction. They encapsulate all that I love about this squash, its drier texture when fried compared to that of say butternut, the crispy, crumbed exterior, all credit to the squash, no need for flours or dredging, the creamy, fluffy interior that just melts in your mouth. The taste that I find comparison to impossible. When I lost potatoes I lost a staple of my diet that I have never been able to replace, with harlequin that is no longer true. Mashed as a topping, roasted, in pasta, or Stuffing. There are ways I have yet to try. I’ll enjoy each and every one of these. I hope the Table King is worth it too. As this is a scheduled post things might seem out of tempo. At least harlequin squash is timeless. I’ll see you again soon, dear reader.

Ingredients

300g Harlequin Squash, Chopped into Chunks
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter

Method

1. Heat the Olive Oil and Butter in a non-stick pan and turn the heat to a medium high and stir in the Harlequin Squash. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Should be golden brown, soft and slightly crispy when cooked.

Breads Here Revisited Part 5: Buckwheat Flour Vegetable Bread

 

The end of an era is upon us, the final part of this dissertation on delectable, er, breads is here. You’ve possibly noticed that these have been almost exclusively buckwheat flour breads, well the reason is simply that I enjoy it and it’s the most versatile flour and much more readily available for me. This bread started originally as a means to get more vegetables into my diet. As seen in the main version it’s pretty healthy, the variations is where it became something sweeter. The reason being is that I reworked my meals and ended up eating more vegetables that I ever imagined I would, enjoying them too, shocking I know, and I had a bread that felt lacking. The sweet, though not too sugary, we’re still talking bread and not cake here after all, took over and now I mostly use the Gingerbread Pumpkin Loaf or the Hokkaido Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread. I eat it once a week and a little sweetness does the mind good. They’re still not what I’d call unhealthy, but if sugar puts you off I’d just like to let you know in advance to stick to the original. So, without any further ado, it’s:

Buckwheat Flour Vegetable Bread

If the Nutty Banana Bread is varied it can be said that this goes beyond variations. It has options, that don’t just tweak, they change the bread. I recently served the Hokkaido Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread to guests and they were won over. This is, again, a simple recipe that works thanks to the balance of ingredients. I’ve talked about the preparation on these posts and the vegetable bread is no different. The one great aspect is that you can use steamed vegetables, instead of roasted say, and the results will be as dry or moist as you want assuming you change the amount of water. Folding in vegetable purée gives you body, bulk and taste. It’s a wonderful way to make a meal out of bread and with the sweeter versions  it’s also handy way to appease a slight sweet-tooth. The thought of vegetables in bread might be off putting to some,, it was to me once, but when you taste the lovely springy bread, get a hit of whatever spices you’ve chosen and just enjoy the moist, yet firm texture I think you’ll be won over.

I’ve talked so much about the basics of these breads, they all share a common origin after all, so there isn’t a lot to say here. The choice of vegetable is up to you of course. I prefer sweeter vegetables like sweet potato or squash. I’ve tried less sweet squash, harlequin, but I think orange fleshed varieties are preferable here. I  can’t find a parallel bread to compare this to, that’s not bragging mind, it’s just an interestingly different bread. There are shredded vegetable breads, courgette/zucchini, but to me they’re a different story altogether. The purée melts into the bread and mingles with the flour to create a uniform texture throughout. Nor is it the sweet carrot cake. It’s its own bread. One I’m very proud of and glad to have at hand at all times.

I hope in sharing these bread with you, dear reader, that I haven’t oversold them. I find them useful, nutritious and delicious, but I won’t attach any claims to them that I don’t feel true. They’re not going to change your life, nor will they alone help you lose weight or be healthier, they’re just a small part of the diet that I follow. I’ve found them useful and I hope in sharing that someone out there might find them useful too. The problem with having so man recipes is that you can never share them all or present them all the same way. Recipes that have been here since the blogs inception are going to be presented differently from newer recipes, the style I write in evolves, as does my knowledge. In writing up these posts I wanted to just show a little of what I adhere to, there are so many ways to eat healthy and I can’t encapsulate everything I do into a few posts, I can just share a little here and there, stating things as simply and honestly as I can. I hope this helps. That’s all I want really. Perhaps I’ll do this again, dear reader, maybe I’ll do it before this even publishes! Take care and I’ll see you again.