I have this lingering love affair with squash. I like it pretty much however it is cooked. However in this neck of the woods, we do not get a lot of choice. On my occasional visits to Germany and Britain, I drool over the different squashes available. Here we basically get one sort and that is the squash that looks like a green curling stone, a flattened globe. They do come in a range of sizes however, from some not much bigger than a tea plate up to bigger than a soccer football. That said it is possible, on the markets at least, to buy a half or even a quarter of a squash, with no fuss. As an aside, it is also possible to buy one (1) stick of celery! I just love it here.
Anyway I spotted this recipe, and because of my declared love and the original title of ‘Twice Baked Squash’, investigated further.
First off it said use butternut squash. Yes I have seen them, but not around here. But I did have an ordinary squash, so I thought ‘this is a goer’. Next it said use goats cheese. Well I have some feta that needed using – that will do. Further it said user kosher salt – haven’t got any and none to be bought around here, however as I planned to use feta cheese, which is quite salty, I decided against using any more.Next up was low-fat Greek yoghurt, and again I thought, will ordinary Italian yoghurt from Sud Tirol do? I very sensibly told myself that it would and that no one would be any the wiser.
Lastly it called for Panko breadcrumbs. Now, I have seen this word a lot just lately, but I looked it up on Wikipedia just to refresh my memory. These are breadcrumbs made from a Japanese bread that is baked specially, by passing an electric current through the dough, producing a loaf that has very little crust and has the property of absorbing very little oil or butter when it is further cooked. I make my own breadcrumbs from the bread that I make. My bread is organic sourdough and I am very happy with it, and it has not come from the other side of the world.
I have to say the original title, of Twice Baked Squash, fooled me into thinking that it was a little exotic, and it was not until I had started the first baking that I realized what I was doing. I was softening the squash in the most expensive way possible, by baking it. That is not my style, no way. So I did back-to-back test cooking on how to soften half a squash and here are the results.
Original Recipe said to wrap the squash in aluminium foil and bake at 230 C/450 F/ Gas 8/ Very Hot for 35 minutes or until a knife tested soft. Well our oven takes about 20 minutes to get to that sort of temperature, so a total of 50 minutes oven time at full bore = expensive.
My Recipe. Next I put the other half, without foil, in our vegetable steamer and steamed it for about 12 minutes, using a low gas on the hob top. Done to perfection. I used a cup full of water which took less than 5 minutes to come to the boil, and that water went straight into the stock pot afterwards. I have to confess that I feel incredibly smug when I save time and money, with no loss of flavour either.
Now to my recipe.
Serves 4. Preparation 15 minutes. Cooking 30 minutes
Half a medium squash cut through the middle, deseeded
3 or 4 medium sticks of celery cut to 6 mm/ 1/4 inch lengths
1 medium onion finely sliced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage chopped finely or 1/2 tablespoon of dried sage
50 gm/ 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons of yoghurt
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, dry toasted in a frying pan
Steam the half squash for about 10 to 12 minutes or until it is fully softened. Test with a skewer or thin knife.
Meanwhile saute the onion, celery slices and the garlic in a little of the olive oil. Leave a little texture in the celery.
Using a dessert spoon, remove the flesh, from the squash, transferring it to a small mixing bowl and , leaving a 6 mm/ 1/4 inch layer all over.
Retain the shell
Mash the flesh and then add the cheese, yoghurt, celery, onion, garlic and sage. Mix thoroughly.
Transfer the mixture to the retained shell, smoothing over the surface.
Spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
Sprinkle sparingly with the remaining olive oil.
Bake in a pre set oven at 200 C/425 F/Gas 6/Moderate Hot for about 15 minutes or until it is heated right through.