Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spicy Honey-Rum Kabocha & Apple Smash

This winter squash recipe balances savory, sweet and spicy flavors in a vegan/vegetarian side dish that will complement your favorite Autumn entrees, be they vegetarian or meat-based (e.g., roast pork or chicken, venison or game birds, and even steak or holiday turkey).  The mellow sweetness and mild to medium spiciness comes from Dog-Gone Honey Rum Hot Sauce, a delectably different gourmet hot sauce made from all-natural ingredients including pineapple, mango, honey, peri-peri and cayenne peppers plus a splash of dark rum. You control how spicy-hot to make the dish by adjusting the amount of hot sauce to suit your taste.

I call this recipe a "smash" for two reasons: First, the roasted squash and apple are "smashed up" either by hand with a potato masher or fork for a chunky texture (shown in photo), or processed in a food processor for a smooth puree; and second, rum is one of the ingredients thanks to the hot sauce-- but don't get too excited because there's nowhere near enough rum to make YOU smashed or even tipsy.  Although the cooking time is long (about 2 hours), the actual hands-on prep time is very brief, no more than 10 minutes. I used a 2-lb kabocha squash, which made enough for 4 side servings. You can use other winter squash like acorn, hubbard or even pumpkin, and adjust the ingredient quantities depending on the weight of your uncooked squash.

For a pretty, seasonal presentation, garnish the served squash & apple smash with a bit of fresh sage.

Honey-Rum Hot Sauce
1 kabocha or other winter squash (approx. 2 lbs)
1 apple
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp dried sage, divided
Salt & pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbs Dog-Gone Honey Rum Hot Sauce (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Halve the squash vertically (from stem to bottom) and scoop out the seeds & fibers. Place squash halves, cut side up, in a small enough baking dish to keep the halves upright (I used an 8"x8"x2" baking dish). Add half of the onion into the cavity of each squash half. Quarter and core the apple, then cut into small cubes. Fill each squash half with cubed apple (I had a few apple cubes left over and snacked on them as the squash roasted). Drizzle each stuffed squash half with 1 Tbs of olive oil, sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp dried sage and then season with salt & pepper to taste. 

Ready to roast
Carefully pour about 1/4 cup of water into the baking dish around the squash, cover the dish with foil and roast in preheated oven until the squash is fork-tender--this can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hrs to over 2 hrs. Check the squash after one hour and add more water to the dish if necessary. When squash is almost done, remove foil and continue to roast, uncovered, until done, to add a touch of golden-brown color.

When squash is tender, remove dish from oven and allow to cool until the squash halves are safe to handle without burning yourself. Use a large spoon to scoop the squash flesh and filling into a bowl or your food processor, being careful not to include pieces of the squash shell. Add hot sauce (start with 1 Tbs to make sure you don't make it too spicy) and then either mash by hand or puree in food processor to desired consistency.  If the smash is too thick during processing, add just a little bit of broth or water or olive oil. Taste for balance and season with more salt or hot sauce if desired. Refrigerate leftovers, as they taste even better the next day.

Zestfully yours,

PS: When you buy Dog-Gone Hot Sauce, one hundred percent of the after-tax proceeds are donated to animal shelters and rescue groups.

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