Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Time

There's going to be a new dish on our Thanksgiving table this year, an authentic Native American dish.

I found the recipe in Spirit of the Harvest, by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs. After twenty years the James Beard Award Winning book has been reissued. Each section of the book describes the culture, diet and ceremonial use of food by Native Americans in different areas of North America.

The picture of the stuffed baked pumpkin looked so beautiful, I couldn't resist adding it to our menu. This little sugar pumpkin is stuffed with a mixture that is very similar to a Thanksgiving dressing. After giving it a test run, I can hardly wait to place it next to the turkey and cranberry sauce. It's going to make a beautiful presentation and a delicious addition to our table.

I couldn't resist giving another stuffed squash a try while working on a vegetarian dish for my non-meat eating friends. I tried both butternut and acorn squash for this dish. The acorn squash proved to be a better receptacle for the tortellini with pumpkin blue cheese cream sauce. The squash alone is so delicious when roasted. The addition of the pasta and sauce simply doubles the 'goodness'. One acorn squash will provide six side dish servings.

May your table be complete this Thanksgiving, your blessings be many and the spirit of gratefulness fill your holiday.


Serves 6


1 4- to 5-pound sugar pumpkin

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or rendered fat

1 pound ground venison, buffalo, or beef (I used sweet Italian sausage--delicious!)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup wild rice, cooked

3 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon crushed dried sage

¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the top from the pumpkin and remove seeds and strings. Prick cavity with a fork and rub with 1 teaspoon of salt and the mustard. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add meat and onion and sauté over medium-high heat until browned. Off the heat, stir in wild rice, eggs, remaining salt, sage, and pepper. Stuff pumpkin with this mixture. Place ½ inch of water in the bottom of a shallow baking pan.

Put pumpkin in the pan and bake for 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Add more water to the pan as necessary to avoid sticking. Cut pumpkin into wedges, giving each person both pumpkin and stuffing.

Acorn Squash with Tortellini and Blue Cheese Sauce

2 Acorn Squash

2 T butter, melted

8 T shredded Parmesan Cheese


1 package cheese Tortellini, cooked one minute less than package directions, and drained

2 cups half and half

1 (15oz.) can pumpkin puree

2 T butter

One-half teaspoon salt

One-half teaspoon pepper

One-fourth teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

5 oz. Blue cheese crumbles

Fried sage leaves as garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Split squash long ways (from stem to tip) and remove seeds. Slice a little piece off bottom of each half to allow halves to sit flat. Place squash into foil lined pan. Brush inside with melted butter, sprinkle a little salt and about a tablespoon of parmesan cheese into each half. Cover pan with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until flesh is tender, but squash still holds its shape.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions, but about a minute or two less than directed. Drain and set aside.
Add half and half, pumpkin, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sage to sauce pan. Stir to combine over low heat. Finally, add blue cheese, stirring until blue cheese melts into sauce. Add cooked tortellini, and remove from heat.
Remove roasted squash from oven. With slotted spoon, add tortellini to each squash, drizzling a little more sauce over top.
Return to oven and bake another twenty minutes, sprinkling the remaining parmesan cheese over top during the last ten minutes.
Garnish with fried sage leaves, slice and serve.
(I sprinkled the top of these squash with pumpernickel bread crumbs, but they didn't add to the flavor of the dish, and I don't think they look very good, so I won't do that again!)

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