Whenever I am trying out a recipe for the first time, I follow the directions exactly. After I know what it tastes like, I feel free to alter away. The only time I make changes to start with is either if the ingredient is one I don’t eat, or one where I have an acceptable substitute on hand (like millet for quinoa).
Well I threw all that out the window yesterday. I went rogue. It was scary … and liberating.
About a month ago I’d bought a kabocha squash. I’d never heard of it, but it was on sale, and I figure the Googles would definitely have some cooking options for me. When I was in England I tried a new-t0-me food once a month. It had been ages since I’d done that, so adventurous me put one in the cart.
There were lots of recipes online, but they all involved baking it It’s still in the 80s here, so that was out of the question.. The recipe I really wanted to try involved cooking everything in the squash. I almost decided to wait until it cools off in a few weeks, but then I had a flash of brilliance: If I can put a casserole dish inside my crockpot and cook that way, why can’t I put the squash directly in and cook it that way?
What I didn’t know until today was that kabocha squash is also known as Japanese pumpkin. Sure enough, when you crack it open, it has the typical look inside.
Note: the strings are MUCH stickier!
The recipe called for cooking up all the innards and then stuffing the squash. My thinking was that since it is in the crockpot, it will work well if I skip that step. Ummmm, no. I needed to cook down all that veggie goodness to have it fit.
As I was sauteeing all that goodness, I reread the recipe to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any seasonings. Hmmmm… “Rereading” was a misnomer. It turns out the recipe had a whole bunch of other ingredients I’d missed that made it something I never would have wanted to try. I must have been distracted by bright shiny things, but that is okay. It gave me the courage to try this.
So it did its crockpotting thing. The end result?
It looked great, until it was getting it out of the crockpot.
It did taste great. Since it turned out, here is the recipe as I should have made it:
1 Kabocha squash, seeded
1 onion, slided into thin strips
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1.2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic salt for seasoning inside of squash. Additional to flavor the stuffing.
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup jack cheese
1/2 cup cheddar
1 tbl olive oil
When I do it again, I will saute the onions until soft and almost browned, then add the mushrooms and garlic until fragrant. Add in the spinach, just until wilty. Place half the veg mixture to the squash, which is placed directly into the crockpot. This will work best in a shallower crockpot so there is a chance of getting it out in one piece. Alternately, place the squash on an upside down casserole dish to raise it up. On top of the veggie mixture, add half the cheese mixture. Layer the rest of the veg. Put the squash “lid” back on. Cook on high for an hour and a half. Take the squash lid off and rest along the side. Add the rest of the cheese. Turn down to heat to low, and cook for another two – three hours, until squash is cooked through.