It’s initially confusing when the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share includes a turks turban squash. It’s mostly used as decoration in Fall displays surrounded by fiery golden-hued leaves. The winter green outer skin is mottled with warm colors of the season. Its shape is the namesake, for this squash resembles a scarf wrapped around a person’s head. Momentarily forgetting that the CSA doesn’t provide objects for interior design, the turks turban squash is placed on a kitchen counter as decoration. A couple days later, I remember “this decoration” is an edible vegetable.
Creating a meal to use for a turks turban squash isn’t too difficult. Substitute it for any sweet potato, pumpkin or winter squash recipe. With left over duck bacon from another recipe, I decided a risotto using both ingredients would be a pleasant meal. Similar to other winter squashes, cutting into a turks turban squash is challenging. Mentioning the difficulty of cutting into a squash on My Life Runs On Food’s Facebook page, Melissa Danielle, a community food activist, recommends roasting winter squashes in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes to easily remove the skin. Her advice will be safely heeded next time, for it came too late. By the time she posted the advice, the squash was hacked in half and scooped clear of seeds. All ten fingers were safe. If there are extra minutes in a busy schedule, roast the seeds. They’ll make a nice garnish over the risotto.
Risottos are cheesy rice dishes slowly cooked with wine or stock. It’s an easy dish that takes patience. They’re many variations using any combination of vegetables and meat. Of course, it can be vegetarian, too. It’s a great year-round dish for displaying vegetables of the season. The Roast Turks Turban Squash and Duck Bacon Risotto is a beautiful dish for the Fall. The saltiness and slight gaminess of the duck bacon seasons the turks turban’s sweet, orange flesh, which is similar to a pumpkin.
The next time there’s a few turks turban squashes* at the store or a farmer’s market, extend it’s function from decoration into a recipe. Then hack it for it’s sweet flesh and seeds to roast. After all, let’s not forget it’s a Fall vegetable grown to be consumed.
* Avoid eating varieties grown only for decoration.
Roast Turks Turban Squash and Duck Bacon Risotto
1 roasted turk turban squash (recipe below); chopped
1 cup duck bacon; chopped
1 medium onion; diced
2 to 3 celery stalks; diced
1 to 2 garlic cloves; minced
Crushed red pepper; to taste
Salt and Fresh Black Pepper; to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground caraway
A dash of nutmeg
1-1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
5-1/2 to 6 cups chicken stock
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh herbs; minced (lemon balm, rosemary, sage, oregano and/or basil)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano; grated
1. Over medium-high heat, warm 1 tsp. olive oil. Add duck bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon on to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile cover and heat chicken stock to a simmer. Continue covering the pan until ready to use.
3. Add onions and celery. Stir until onions are translucent. Add garlic and seasoning. Stir for 20 to 30 seconds.
4. Add rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine and stir until it nearly disappears.
5. Add a 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the rice. When it nearly disappears, add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Repeat until the rice is almost al dente.
6. After adding the last 1/2 cup of chicken stock, add the roast turks turban squash, herbs, duck bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
7. Garnish with the roasted turks squash wedges placed aside.
8. Enjoy warm.
Roasted Turk Squash
1 turk turban squash
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (lemon balm, sage, basil, rosemary and oregano)
Honey; to taste
Salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
Crushed red pepper; to taste
1 small garlic; minced
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Carefully cut one turk squash vertically in half (from the stem to the bottom). Be careful when cutting, because the first cut is the toughest. Afterwards, it’s easier to cut into smaller pieces. Once cut in half, remove and discard seeds. Cut the halves into one inch wedges. Place wedges in a large bowl.
3. In the same bow, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
4. Dump over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Occasionally stir and roast the squash for 50 minutes to an hour.
5. Once soft, remove from the oven. Set aside 4 to 6 pieces for garnishing the plates. Wit the rest of the wedges, remove and discard the skin. Roughly chop the skinless wedges and set aside to add in the risotto.
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