on one of my seed buying frenzies i grabbed a packet of Sweet Dumpling Squash seeds. not knowing really what they would turn out like, i figured they were a winter squash, all the packet said was "unsual light and dark striped skin with flesh of creamy orange. perfect for stuffing or cooking whole." so i guessed i couldn't go too wrong. once they were in the poly tunnel - happily growing away, i did some research. i read they were actually summer squash, but then i read they were winter squash. so i was confused, once harvested they seemed to be a bit of both. they have stored really well since i harvested them in september, and that puts them more in the winter squash genre, in my mind. i was worried i'd end up with too many squash going off all at once, like some of my courgettes (summer squash). this wasn't the case, as im staring at three plump firm specimens as i write this. after cooking their flesh turns soft and creamy, i look forward to growing more of these next year!
after eyeing up recipes for stuffed squash i decided to stuff my lil' dumplings with my new favourite ingredient from the bakery/deli. its a fresh chorizo iberico, which means the black iberian pigs were fed on acorns from oak trees for a period and also that it requires cooking before eating, unlike cured chorizos. its pretty rich and requires no oil for sauteing, the internal oils do all the work, yum! i also grabbed some st. tola organic goats cheese, creme fraiche. the rocket (or arugula) i got from my weekly C.S.A box from Kinsale Green Growers. the flavours melded together wonderfully, and one sweet dumpling squash happily fed two people, it would be perfect for 6-8 as a side dish too.
if you've never grown squash before, they are greedy buggers and love rich manured soil. they also crave moisture and heat. its amazing how fast they grow, and just how much plant it takes to make a few little squash! different squash varieties yield different amounts with these smaller types i got 2-3 per plant. larger squash could be less depending on weather and nutrients. i've heard of squash growing on manure, so give it loads and you'll get it back.
when sowing squash in these climates it's best to start them indoors in 4-5 inch pots, they grow fast. this gives them a headstart in a warm place and protects them from slugs. usually in june its warm enough to plant them outside, give an allowance of 3 feet between plants and add a big spadeful of manure to their planting hole. cover the manure with a small bit of soil and place the squash in a mound elevated a little. this will help keep the plants a bit above the soil if it gets too wet, so they don't rot.
once mid summer rolls around you should be seeing squash forming, on the base of the female flowers. this can take sometime, so be patient. the squash is ready to harvest when it pulls easily off the vine with a firm twist.
store them in a cool place for months, if they seems to be going soft or wrinkly, cook em up! i've had pumpkins in the hallway well into january. so don't worry to much.
Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Chorizo and Rocket Salad
Serves 4 as a main portion or 8 sides
this is a veratile recipe, feel free to swap ingredients, like bacon for the chorizo, or a different cheese (blue?), use any herbs or spices you think will work. here is a guideline recipe to go by.
2 dumpling squash or pumpkins, around 675g (1 1/2pounds) each. or one medium sized pumpkin 1250g (around 3 pounds) in weight
100g (4oz) cubed stale bread
100g (4 oz) chorizo, diced and pan fried in its own oils till crispy, cool and reserve pan juices
120ml (1/2 cup)creme fraiche, or sour cream
about 120ml (1/2 cup) prepared stock, chicken or veg
100g (4 oz) soft goats cheese
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful rocket (arugula) chopped finely
salt and pepper
|stuffing before adding the creme fraiche and stock|
- preheat your oven to 180c (350F), place a rack in the center of oven.
- take your chosen squash and cut a lid out of the top, try to save the stem.
- trim the fuzzy bit from the bottom of your lid. then scoop out the seeds and any stringy pulp from the interior. lightly rub salt and pepper around the inside of the flesh.
- place the rest of your ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir till combined, season with salt and pepper and taste the filling, add more stock if it seems dry.
- stuff your squash to the brim. there may be extra, there was for me, you can eat it sneakily or toss into another salad for your next meal.
- place your squash(s) on a lightly greased baking tray. and place in your oven. set the timer for an hour (my two dumplings took 1hour and ten minutes) or close to two hours for a larger pumpkin.
- when your pumpkin is ready, it will be lightly browned and when you stick a paring knife through the flesh there will be no resistance. it will be steamy inside the stuffing too.
- slice your pumpkin into desired portions, serve hot from the oven with a rocket salad (see below)
For the Rocket Salad
1 bunch or rocket (or arugula)
splash of balsamic vinegar
a good pour of olive oil
salt and pepper
- place all your ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly, taste and adjust the flavours. serve on the side of your stuffed squash.