Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Squash Pepper Poppers

The challenge: In my house, except for me, squash is OK, only as long as it tends towards the savory and not the sweet.  And crunchy is always preferred.

Hard, because butternut squash for me always reads creamy and sweet - butternut squash risotto with mushrooms and maybe a little bacon/spek/prosciutto/pancetta (you get the idea) is one of MY absolute faves.

So after making some soups - what to do that is squashy, but unexpected....

Fridge search reveals Trader Joe's "Peri Peri Peppadrops,"
 and pecorino cheese. (sweet, spicy, salty... on to something...)

Pine nuts of the new world
as far as I'm concerned.

And the pantry turns up bread crumbs and.... drum roll please... pumpkin seeds - the "pepita" kind.

Sage is invulnerable, and is out there doing just fine.  Leaves please...
but not too many or the whole thing will taste like SOAP!

The recipe:
This should make a nice platter at your next fall party!

1 jar of the Peri-Peri Peppadrops
about 1lb of butternut squash cubes/wedges (pre cooked... see below)
1/2 C of bread crumbs - unseasoned
1/4+ C pepitas
2 oz Pecorino Romano grated fine (this comes out to over a cup on a microplane type)
3 - 6 sage leaves (depends on size) sliced into tiny ribbons and then chopped again (mined fine)
salt to taste
(oil - olive or other mild/neutral tasting)

If your squash is not cooked, preheat the oven to 350.
Toss the squash it with a drizzle of oil & a sprinkle of salt, and bake it in the oven in peeled wedges or cubes no bigger than an inch thick for 20 - 40+ minutes depending on the squash.  Shake and turn it after 15 min to get an idea of how it is doing.  It is done when fork tender (a fork goes in easily.) AND it has some brown on the edges... you want the squash to get a little bit drier than normal for this one.

Use a melon baller to scoop leftover seeds out of the peppers.  Set them up on a tray.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, chop it/smash it into small bits.  Food mill, knife, potato masher or food processor all work (FWIW I used my food mill).
In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs, grated cheese and half the minced sage.
Add in the squash, taste for salt & sage.  If it needs more, add it now.  The flavors should be strong rather than subtle, but not overpowering.

Stuff them into the peppers, and at the last minute push about 3 pepitas into the center of the squash stuffing.

SERVE!  (With a nice bitter beer was one taster's suggestion...  I bet a tart chianti would be a good bet too.  I have to make them again and try...)

P.S. you can add the pepitas into the stuffing mix but they will lose their crunch fairly quickly.

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