“Kuri” Some Flavor

I probably sound like a broken record at this point going on and on lately about my huge stash of Winter squash, but I can’t help it! Each one brings it’s own virtues and excitement to the table, pun intended, and the one from last week was no exception. This was another one with the edible skin and this one wasn’t as off-putting as the delicata squash. Red Kuri was on the menu and it was pretty dang good! It exceeded expectations in every way and was one of the most looked-forward-to leftovers the next day.

I was pretty intimidated at first about not skinning the squash prior to roasting. If you follow me on Instagram, you may recall that I have roasted skin-on squash before. The delicata squash was tasty, but the skin wasn’t as tender as I would have preferred. I was very aware of it’s presence, despite the flesh itself being described as a subtle cross between sweet corn and pumpkin pie. It’s one I would definitely try again since it was so delicious, but I think I would either roast it a little longer to soften the skin more or skin it prior to roasting like you would butternut squash. Feeling the skin of these squashes, they feel firm. However, taking any ordinary vegetable peeler to the skin will yield easy peeling, so you shouldn’t be afraid of the skin of any squash.

This time, I had the same apprehension about the skin, but since it was a bigger, more substantial piece of produce… I figured, if anything, I could just peel the skin off after roasting like I do with pumpkin when making my annual purée for pies. And you better believe I make my own purée every year! I’m not sure whether it’s any better than canned, but it’s fun and easy and I get way more than one can’s worth out of pumpkin purée out of a sugar pie pumpkin, making it a more economical option too (depending on the time of year or geographic location you buy your pie pumpkins)! As a plus, when you make your own purée, you know exactly what’s going into your dish.

Even bloggers need a little help from other bloggers from time to time. Here I was with a cache of Winter squash and only having recipes for about three-quarters of them. This didn’t deter me; it only made me go hunting. I was not about to throw out perfectly good squash after it had adorned my counter so prettily for a week or so. I scoured all of my copious cookbooks and had absolutely no recipes incorporating Red Kuri or anything like it that I could use as a sub. This is where Pinterest comes into play. It didn’t take long to hunt down a recipe for Roasted Red Kuri and Shallots from A Daily Something. I was pretty much sold on the recipe when I espied the beautiful crescents of sliced squash roasted alongside casually-sliced shallots. If you’ve never enjoyed roasted or fried shallots, you need to add this to your repertoire… like yesterday. They’re a definite upgrade from traditional roasted or grilled onions and just as easy to use!

Shallot flavor can best be described as a lovely combination of onion and garlic. It’s not as assertive and bracing as onions and, though quite pungent, not as in-your-face as garlic. You could definitely substitute wedges of onion (or skinned cloves of elephant garlic) in place of the shallot in this recipe, sure. But the roasted shallots added just that difference of tanginess and slight sweetness that complemented the umami sweetness of the squash. In fact, I’m convinced that the combination of the roasted shallots with the roasted squash is what made us look forward to the leftovers the next night. It wasn’t the “sexiest” dish by a mile, but did it ever leave us wanting more despite being full after enjoying it with its accompaniments.

Red Kuri squash by and large was the easiest to clean! All the other Winter squashes I’ve come across have me scraping for what feels like a week to get all the “strings” and seeds out. Red Kuri was so amazingly simple. It was as easy as just running your average dinner spoon along the inside a few times with very minimal effort. I didn’t spend too much time cleaning the squash and we were able to enjoy dinner sooner than anticipated. Which is very fortuitous nowadays since my husband and I are both “essential” workers. It seems that someone new is out on quarantine every week, leaving the rest to pick up each others’ slack. We’re both so grateful to have work when so many this year have done without, so helping our fellow coworkers out has been a family-like team effort. It has kept us both so very busy, however.

Similar in shape and color to the pumpkin, the Red Kuri squash is smaller and more teardrop- shaped. Red Kuri is a native of Japan (specifically Hokkaido) and a descendant of the Hubbard squash. It is believed that it was bred for it’s thinner, more edible skin and earthier flavor. This is what makes it so good for roasting for a savory side versus for a sweet dessert like one would with a pumpkin for pie. In a pinch, you could use it to make a pie, but I think this squash is best left for the savory side of the dinner table than dessert.

One thing I did was I roasted the slivers of squash maybe five or ten minutes longer. I think I may have sliced mine a little thicker than the author of the original recipe did, but I attempted to slice the wedges along the valleys of the squash wall so this could attribute to discrepancies in cooking time between cooks and does not indicate an error on the part of ADS. This extra roasting time had no negative affect the outcome since we both prefer our shallots with a little bit of a deeper caramelization anyway. I would even go so far as to say I like mine just this side of burnt. The deep, slightly bitter flavor mingling with the sweetness really does it for me. So sue me!

With all of the poultry being cooked up for family gatherings this time of year, I felt like we needed a switch up for a typical weeknight meal. We paired our roasted squash and shallots with tender, mid-rare grilled sirloin steaks and a Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Salad kit (one of our favorites – in fact I’m pretty sure we eat this one at least once a week). The balance between the iron-rich, primitiveness of the steaks and the sweet, crunch salad juxtaposed against the oven-caressed squash and shallots created a dinner that excited all the senses. So much color and different textures woven throughout the plate kept the palate fully engaged. Red Kuri squash is also an excellent source of fiber and beta carotene as well as being delightfully low in calories making this Winter squash a great, healthy pick for a weeknight dinner during the holidays.

What are some of the best veggie discoveries you’ve made lately?

Currently Reading: Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Scripture of the Day: “‘Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.” -Genesis 1:30

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