Carnival squash is similar to an Acorn squash in appearance, texture and flavor. It is actually a hybrid of the Acorn squash mixed with a Sweet Dumpling squash. The skin, as the name implies is very festive with splashes of bright orange, green and creamy yellow they are the Jackson Pollack art of produce. When cooked it attains that same rich, buttery, nutty, sweetness we all love about the Acorn squash. You can use a Carnival Squash just like you would any orange fleshed winter squash like Butternut, Kabocha or Acorn. You can roast it whole or in half and then use the meat in many recipes like soups, stews, risottos, or pasta dishes or even as a sauce. It lends itself to both sweet and savory flavor profiles. Since it is a small squash, you can roast it in halves and use the squash as the serving vessel for individual portions. This squash pairs well with pork, lamb, white fish, or other roasted winter vegetables and aged cheeses. For optimal shelf life, keep the Carnival squash in a cool, dark space with relative humidity.
Tonight I paired my squash with apples, sweet onions and pork in the form of mild Italian Sausage. First I pre-cooked the squash. I had intended to oven roast them at 400º for 35-40 minutes, but discovered my husband would have to leave before I could get dinner on the table if I cooked them that way, so I cheated and popped my seasoned squash halves into the microwave for 20 minutes. The seasoning is simple, a little Pink Himalayan salt, some roast garlic powder and fresh thyme leaves. Once it finished pre-cooking, I put a little piece of butter in each one half and loaded them onto a roasting sheet.
While the squash was still in the microwave, I diced up two apples and half a large sweet onion. I also opened a package of mild Italian sausage links. I intended to roast one for each of us and there were five lovely sausages in the package, so I opened the extra one and put it in the saute pan to brown and then tossed in my apples and onion. I like to match my flavor profiles so I seasoned the apples with pink salt and roast garlic just like the squash, but I also added a dash of nutmeg, some Saigon Cinnamon and a smidgen of white pepper. White pepper is just a tad spicier than black and it more or less disappears on your food. You could also opt to use red pepper or cayenne instead. You want just a hint of heat to balance the sweet. Once your onions are translucent, stuff each squash half with the contents of your saute pan. Use your spoon to tamp it down and fill them all to overflowing.
Pop those stuffed Carnival squash halves into your preheated oven for roughly 25-30 minutes depending on your altitude. And then serve them up! I put my four extra sausages in an oven proof pan and roasted them right along with the squash, just turn them a couple of times for even browning. Garnish with fresh thyme and dig in!!
- 2 Carnival Squash, washed, halved and seeded
- Coconut or other cooking Spray
- 10-12 Sprigs fresh Thyme
- Himalayan Pink Salt
- Roast Garlic Powder
- 1 pat Unsalted Butter divided into 4 pieces
- 2 Medium apples, diced (I leave the skins on, but you can peel them if you wish)
- ½ Large Sweet Onion, diced
- 1 Italian sausage, skin removed
- Saigon Cinnamon
- White Pepper (Optional: use Red Pepper)
- Preheat the oven to 400º Fahrenheit.
- Clean the squash halves and spritz them with coconut cooking oil.
- Salt each squash half and apply a pinch or so of roast garlic powder as well.
- Set aside 4 sprigs of thyme for garnishing. Remove the leaves from the remaining sprigs and apply roughly 2 sprigs worth to each squash half.
- Pop the 4 halves into the microwave for 20 minutes. (Or you can roast them in the oven for 35-40 minutes)
- Load the pre-cooked squash on a roasting pan and put a piece of butter in each half.
- Brown the Italian sausage and break it up into a crumble
- Add the diced apple and onion to the pan and season with Himalayan pink salt, roasted garlic powder, a dash or two of nutmeg and a dash or so of Saigon Cinnamon and white pepper to taste. Saute until onions and apple chunks soften.
- Spoon the filling into each half and tamp it down with the spoon to get it all in the four halves.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh thyme to serve. Serves 4.