Welcome fall with a pair of squash recipes

Although it’s time to say goodbye to the last of late summer’s bounty – tomatoes, cucumbers and corn, we can look forward to fall’s fresh produce. Local farmer Tim Keil of Louis Keil and Sons urges sweet corn lovers to scoop up what they can as availability begins to fade this time of year. “Corn is in short supply now, but we’ve got lots of squash, cabbage, kale, greens and white potatoes,” he mentioned.

Keil’s farm, located at 9022 Central Ave. in Sylvania, grows several varieties of winter squash including acorn, butternut, mashed potato, delicata, sweet dumpling and spaghetti. I selected two styles, butternut and delicata, to highlight this week. Try them in Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells and Delicata Squash Harvest Salad.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Brown Butter Sage Sauce
4 servings
1 large butternut squash
Olive oil
16 jumbo pasta shells
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed, fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce:
1 stick of butter
1 clove garlic, minced
10 sage leaves
Fresh lemon juice

Heat oven to 400 F. Peel squash, remove seeds and chop into 1-inch cubes. Toss cubes in olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast until soft, about 20-30 minutes. Mash lightly.
Cook pasta shells according to package directions, making sure to fully cook the pasta.
In a bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, spinach, egg, squash, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Lower heat to 375 F. Stuff shells with the cheese mixture. Arrange in an 8 x 8 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
While shells are baking, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter and cook until brown and bubbly. Add sage leaves and cook until they are slightly crisp. Squeeze in lemon juice.
When shells are cooked, spoon warm sauce over them and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Delicata Squash Harvest Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
6 servings
1 medium delicata squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups spring mix
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400 F. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside.
Wash squash and cut ends off. Cut squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Lay slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine olive oil and maple syrup. Pour over squash. Roast for 20 minutes or until squash is tender and golden. Cool to room temperature.
To a large serving bowl, add greens, cranberries, walnuts, bacon and goat cheese. Top with roasted squash. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Freezing veggies for later
Tim Keil of Louis Keil and Sons mentioned drying, canning and freezing as good methods for preserving produce. “Canning is great if you have the time; however, freezing is the easiest and fastest,” he said.
To freeze corn, add it to boiling water and cook 3-5 minutes. Remove the corn from water and slice it from the cob. “Allow kernels to completely cool before placing them in freezer bags,” Keil suggested.
Peppers can be frozen raw. Cut them into strips or halves then spread them out on a baking sheet. Freeze about an hour before adding to freezer bags. This will keep them from clumping. “Just don’t thaw them before adding them to your dishes – they will be mushy,” Keil said. Peppers can even be stuffed before freezing.
The same goes for onions. Dice and freeze them on a baking sheet before adding to freezer bags. Toss them in stews, chili and soups while still frozen.
“Lay herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves on cookie sheets and allow to dry 5-10 days. Crush them or leave them whole then store in jars,” said Keil. “Freeze fresh basil in ice cube trays covered with a little water.

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