Sunday, November 15, 2009

Squash Enchiladas for the Squash Bash

Let's see if I can recreate the recipe that I made last night for the annual Squash Bash. Originally, I got the recipe out of Bicycling Magazine, but when I read it, I thought, "I can do better than that." The recipe was for squash enchiladas, and that sounded very yummy, but the recipe was too bland.

So here's what I put into the filling, although I'm only guessing on the quantities for most items (as usual):
1 medium butternut squash
1 small Mooregold* squash
2 medium red onions
1 handful dried apples
1 roasted red pepper#
2 dried guajillo chile
1 dried cayenne pepper
a big chunk of cream cheese
red pepper

Also needed for the recipe:
1 package of corn tortillas
green sauce
grated cheese (preferably Monterey Jack, but use any soft, mild cheese)

Of course, you have to bake the squash until they are soft, and scoop out the flesh. Butternut squash are the standard for soft, sweet squash. They are easy to find, even in the big grocery stores and relatively cheap. But Mooregold are even better. Too bad they are so hard to find once the Farmers' Market closes up. The outside is a deep reddish-orange, and the inside is also more red than a butternut. The most interesting thing about a Mooregold is that after they are baked, and the flesh removed, the outside husk dries into a hard shell. You could almost use them as bowls. They must eventually break down, though, because I never find any trace of them when I dig through the compost pile in the spring.

Back to the recipe.

After the squash is all cooked, I set it aside to cool a bit, so I wouldn't burn my fingers scraping out the flesh. Done that way too many time. In the meantime I sauteed the onion in oil until it was soft and transparent. As the onions were cooking I added all the dry spices and roasted peppers, and cut up dried chiles.

When the onion mixture was all ready, I added the squash, chopped up dried apples, and cream cheese. (The cream cheese will melt into the hot mixture, but mash it all up to make sure you don't get chunks.)

This squash mixture then served as the filling for the enchiladas. One package of corn tortillas was just the right number to fill a rectangular baking dish. I had to heat the tortillas to make sure that they didn't break when I rolled them. Then I put a big helping of squash mixture in each one, rolled them up, and put the rolled side down in an oiled baking dish.

The recipe I was using as a guide said to cover the everything with enchilada sauce. I used green sauce, since I thought it was less likely to detract from the squash taste. That was a very good choice. Make sure to get the sauce over all the exposed enchiladas so they don't burn.

Finally, top with grated cheese. I thought I had the monterey jack in the house, but I was wrong. So I used half mozzarella, and half havarti.

I baked it about 15-20 minutes (350 degrees), or until the cheese was all melted, but not burned.

It was a huge hit! There was plenty of bite to the squash mixture, but the dried apples also gave it a slightly sweet taste. I love the combination of sweet and spicy.

Funny thing is that it was spicier right out of the oven than later in the evening, or the next day. Usually things get hotter the next day.

*I was googling Mooregold squah while writing this, and discovered that it was developed right here in Wisconsin. If you follow the link in the ingredients list, you can read about how and why it was developed.

# When red peppers are cheap and plentiful at the end of the summer, I buy a big bag and roast them. It's very messy, but after they cool, I freeze them in containers with clear wrap between them. The frozen roasted peppers are very easy to work with when you need them later in the year; they keep well, and are much cheaper than buying frozen roasted peppers. You can take out just one or two as you need them.

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