Sunday, January 06, 2013

The New Brooklyn Cookbook: Delicata Squash with Toasted Squash Seeds and Aleppo Pepper

When I originally got my Brooklyn cookbook, I was groaning at the thought of all that Italian food that must be between the covers.  I wasn't entirely right on that count, but what I did find was a bunch of pretentious food that no decent cook would waste their time on.  I figure that if you have to make five different items and bring them together to make the whole, and this "whole" barely covers the glaring white center of the dish, fuhgeddaboudit.  Yes, I just did that.

Luckily I managed to scrounge up the saving grace of this cookbook (Yes, cookbook, you were destined for the Half Price Books discount bin!  You hear me???).  This beautiful squash recipe is like nothing else I have ever tried.  It takes just about forever to pick all the seeds from the membranes to toast, but gosh, it's worth it.  Creamy magical squashy goodness, right here.

Delicata Squash with Toasted Squash Seeds and Aleppo Pepper

Six delicate squash, 3 to 4 inches long, halved lengthwise
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 egg whites
Ground Aleppo pepper or paprika, for garnish
Sea salt, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Scrape the seeds from the squash and place them in a colander.  Rinse under cold water to remove as much pulp as you can.  Drain, then transfer the seeds to a plate lined with a paper towel and reserve.

Peel 6 of the squash halves (the least attractive ones) and cut them into 1-inch cubes.  Place the cubed squash in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.  Add 6 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a blender and, working in batches, puree the squash with the maple syrup.  (You can also use an immersion blender to puree the squash.)  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, pureeing until the mixture is silky smooth and thick.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

While the squash is cooking, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.  Season the remaining squash halves with salt and pepper and place them cut side down on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.  Toss the reserved squash seeds with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Toast the seeds in the oven until they are crispy and aromatic, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir the seeds halfway through the cooking time to break them apart.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the cooked squash puree.  Spoon the puree into the baked squash halves.  Return them to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the puree and the edges of the squash are golden brown.

To serve, drizzle each squash half with olive oil and garnish with the toasted seeds, Aleppo pepper or paprika, and sea salt.

Makes 6 servings

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