As with the dawning of each October, I am absolutely in my glory with the bounty of Autumn flavors at my disposal. This recipe combines the warm, crispness of those Fall flavors and makes for a delicious side dish to any poultry dinner.
by Len Boccassini
During the Autumn months, I take full advantage of the gorgeous array of squashes that are available and cook them in every conceivable manner in order to get them on my table as often as possible.
For this recipe, I not only chose the Delicata Squash for its delicious creamy texture, but also, because they are snap to prepare, they do not require peeling for the skin is edible, and the squash itself cooks quickly, making it the perfect Autumn appetizer!
by Len Boccassini
Heavy for their size, Delicata Squash is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. And it was this delightful variety that I chose to hold a fruity stuffing that simply exudes Autumn.
1. Cut squash in half vertically and remove seeds with a spoon.
2. Place in 400º oven and cook for 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until they soften.
4. Add nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
5. Add figs and apples and cook until they begin to caramelize.
6. Add cornbread cubes to skillet and mix. Add chicken broth and cook until it is absorbed and warm. remove from heat.
7. Remove squash from oven and carefully spoon stuffing into cavity. Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes.
8. Thinly slice roasted chestnuts and garnish. Serve while hot.
by Len Boccassini
The inspiration for this dish came from my dear friend, fellow foodie and co-founder of The Sharespot, Alexis Rae Graf, who following a conversation regarding my love of Autumn foods, supplied me with a recipe for "Butternut Squash Bisque". She related how she tweaked the recipe to suit her own tastes and added a variety of herbs, and even fresh ginger. That got me thinking and I decided to experiment a bit with the recipe and add yet another twist.
Each Autumn I try to make as many dishes as I can using as many varieties of squashes and harvest flavors as possible. For this recipe, I decided to employ the Buttercup Squash.
Preparation of this squash is easy and not dissimilar to most others; simply cut it down the middle and separate both halves. Using a spoon, remove all seeds and membrane, and it is ready to cook.
1. Preheat oven to 400º.
2. After splitting Buttercup Squash and removing the seeds, place face down in baking dish. Pour approximately 1/4" of water into pan and bake for one hour or until squash is tender.
3. Melt butter in large stock pot over medium high heat.
4. Add onions, apple, parsnips, sweet potato, salt, pepper, parsley, sage, thyme, and nutmeg. Saute until tender; about 10 minutes.
5. Add approximately one cup of chicken broth and let simmer.
6. Remove squash from oven and carefully turn. Remove flesh from skin with a spoon and scoop into pot.
7. Cover with remaining chicken broth and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
8. Reduce heat to low, and using a submersion blender, puree soup until smooth and creamy.
9. Pour in heavy cream and mix thoroughly. Re-season with salt & pepper if necessary. Serve while hot.
by Len Boccassini
The variety of squashes presented by the Autumn harvest provides me with an never-ending array of delicious recipe ideas crafted from simple, earthy ingredients that somehow transform a dish into something that is seemingly far more elegant than it actually is. It allows me to cook with what I feel to be some of the year's finest flavors - big, bold, savory, sweet flavors truly befitting the words, "comfort food".
This particular dish incorporates one of my favorite October treats - Acorn Squash. Its gorgeous orange flesh is visually reminiscent of cantaloupe and is succulent - almost buttery sweet - when baked. It is a great source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as vitamins C and B, and is perfect for stuffing with any type of rice, meat or vegetable mixture. In this particular case, I've created what can be deemed "Thanksgiving in a Bowl", and after one bite, you know why. Enjoy!
4. Preheat oven to 400º. Set squash face down in a baking dish and pour approximately 1/2" of water into dish. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes.
5. About 40 minutes into the squash's cooking time you can prepare stuffing. Begin by sauteing garlic in olive oil in a large skillet. Add ground turkey when garlic begins to soften.
6. Add diced mushrooms to the skillet and allow to cook as turkey browns.
7. Season turkey and mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste, then add apples, sage and parsley. Allow to a few minutes merely to let flavors begin to develop.
8. Add dried cranberries to skillet, as well as butter.
9. When butter melts, add breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat.
10. Remove squash from oven and carefully pour any remaining water from baking dish. Carefully turn each squash and set it on the now dry baking dish.
11. Spoon stuffing into the cavity of each squash until none remains. Return each to baking dish.
12. Return to oven and cook an additional 10 minutes.
13. Remove from oven and serve while hot.
by Len Boccassini
For the first day of Autumn, I could think of no better way of celebrating the onset of my favorite season than by combining my favorite seasonal vegetable (butternut squash) with one of my favorite pastas (Orecchiette). To be quite frank, this recipe was inspired by my friend Pete Konikowski who just happens to be a fellow cooking enthusiast and musician who makes an incredibly delicious cold Orecchiette and Butternut Squash Salad. His flavor sensibilities inspired me to expand his earthy pasta salad into a heartier dinner offering that celebrates the Fall harvest with undertones of my Italian heritage.
My family hails from Molfetta, Italy, so Orecchiette is no stranger to us. In fact, it is a pasta typical of the Puglia region of southern Italy, and is a variety we often opt for when preparing it with broccoli rabe, garlic and olive oil. Its shape resembles a small ear, hence the name - "orecchio" (ear) and etto (small). Either way, its translation spells delicious to me. I hope you enjoy this Autumn offering.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add sausage. Stir with spatula to break up meat. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg and black pepper, and cook until browned.
4. Remove from skillet and transfer to strainer to drain.
5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted; 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Remove from skillet and transfer to strainer to drain, squeezing all liquid from spinach.
7. Take approximately a spoonful of pumpkin puree, and spread atop dough round, leaving a 1/2" border around.
8. Equally top each round with sausage, spinach and cheese. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
9. Fold dough over filling and pinch edges to seal.
10. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer calzones to baking sheet.
11. Brush tops with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
One of my favorite autumn pastime's is making soup from the season's bountiful harvest. Today, I decided to utilize my all-time favorite ingredient "garlic" and one of my favorite mushrooms - the "porcini". I like my Roasted Garlic & Porcini Mushroom Soup with a bit of a bite, hence the black pepper, but feel free to omit or adjust according. Either way, this one's for my fellow garlic lovers... enjoy!
Every Autumn, especially with the onset of the holidays, I tend to become enamored with harvest time vegetables and colorful dishes. This year I'm particularly enamored with Butternut Squash and I've got some big plans for my orange friend.
This is a simple and sweet dish that can act as a colorful and tasty side to any holiday menu.
It can easily be livened up with the addition of a handful of toasted pecans or walnuts, or even a few raisins. And perhaps even a touch of honey drizzled on each portion before serving.
For those of us who are health conscious (as I am)and want to cut down on some of the caloric values of this recipe, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend can be substituted for the brown sugar and a butter substitute used.