Have you ever tried a Hubbard squash? Up until I started preparing for this column I thought they were too large to cook just for our small family, but I was pleasantly surprised that Hubbard squash come in a smaller variety, too. Hubbard squash are round with a teardrop shape and have bumpy uneven skin. The very large ones are light bluish grey and can grow to very large — some over 20 kilograms, while the green and orange varieties are smaller, with very similar sweet yellow-orange flesh.
Hubbard squash are one of the best squash for storing, due to their thick hard skin. They can be stored over winter for up to six months. Just be sure to wash your squash well and dry it off completely before storing in a cool place away from apples.
Hubbard squashes can be used almost anywhere another winter squash is used, except for, of course, spaghetti squash. The flesh can be scooped out and used in place of pumpkin in pies, muffins, or sweet breads because of it’s similarity to pie pumpkins. Like other winter squash, the smaller Hubbard squash can be cut in half and steamed in the oven by placing the squash cut-side down in about a half-inch, of water and baked at 350 degrees until tender.
Just be sure to use a large and very sharp knife while cutting your squash as the skin can make them difficult to cut. The squash can also be cut into cubes or slices and steamed on the stovetop, roasted or even pan-fried.
I don’t recommend trying to peel a Hubbard, though, due to their bumpy skin, but the sweet flesh can be easily scooped from the skin once cooked. Once cooked and peeled, the squash can be pureed and/or frozen, but also lasts some time in the fridge. Besides baking squash with a little butter, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey, one of my favorite ways to serve any small squash is stuffed with a savory filling.
Quinoa Stuffing Stuffed Squash
1 small hubbard squash or other small to medium sized squash
3/4C dry quinoa
1 1/2 C water or stock
1 tbsp butter, plus more for the squash
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp poultry seasoning (or a mix of your favorite stuffing herbs and spices)
3/4 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1/4 C fresh or frozen cranberries(or substitute dried)
1/4 C slivered almonds(or roughly chopped walnuts)
1/4 C fresh parsley
Start by rinsing your quinoa. I measure out one cup of quinoa into a bowl of water, stir it and let it sit for a moment before draining completely. In a small pot, heat the butter over medium heat and add the onion and celery. Cook for just a few minutes before adding the garlic and cooking for just a minute more. Then add the quinoa, seasonings and water or stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is soft and all the water is absorbed. Set aside until cool enough to add the eggs. Cooking the quinoa filling can be done the night before and then cooled in the fridge overnight. The filling can also be eaten separately as a side dish if you choose to bake your squash differently.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
While waiting for the quinoa to cook, prepare your squash by chopping it in half from the stem (or just beside it) down. Scoop out the seeds and save them to roast or discard them. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet and scoop a teaspoon or two of butter into each one and then set aside.
Once the quinoa mixture is cool enough, add the eggs, plus an extra pinch or two of salt. Stir in the cranberries and nuts and then scoop the filling into the squash. How much filling you need will depend entirely on the size of your squash. You can also prepare half the filling if your squash are particularly small, by using half the amount of nuts, cranberries and eggs. Pack the filling into the squash and be sure to mound the filling over the top of the squash if you have enough. Place a loose piece of tin foil over top of the filled squashes and place them in the oven. Bake until the squash is tender when poked with a fork and the quinoa filling is hot. This took about 60 minutes for my small squash, but again will depend on the size of squash.
Once the squash is done, or almost done, remove the foil to let the top get golden and slightly crunchy. Once done, serve immediately. One stuffed half squash could possibly feed one person as a main dish depending on the size, but the squash halves can easily be cut in half or even quarters to serve as a side.
Heidi Bjarnason is a Creston Valley mom and blogger. For more recipes, ideas, pictures and kid friendly ideas and food, visit Fooddoodles.com.
Many different varieties of squash can be explored at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, at Morris Flowers Garden Centre from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday.