How To: Make ‘Pear-Stuffed Baked Squash’

In February last year I posted a recipe[1] from a gardening book – A Complete Body of Planting and Gardening (1770), by William Hanbury – for baking a whole squash with a filling of fruit and spices. I only recently remembered said idea and decided to give it a go and I’m happy to say that I was very pleased indeed with the results.

Lacking precise instructions, and with just Mr Hanbury’s rather vague description – “baked in the shell with a mixture of diced apples, sugar, and spice” – to go on, I referred instead to the more detailed ‘fireside pumpkin’ recipe that I posted in the same article. Here’s how I went about it:

First, De-Seed Your Squash

This year on the allotment I grew a few ‘Blue Kuri’ squash that seemed an ideal size for two portions. Here’s the one I selected, with the top cut out and the stalk retained to make it easier to use as a lid, and the seeds etc. scooped out from the centre:

Next, Stuff Your Squash

For this first experiment, I used a cooking pear – a ‘Double de Guerre’, from the Plot #79 orchard, which I diced into roughly ½cm to 2cm chunks, and stuffed into the squash, like so:

I was going to add chunks of cooking apple as well, but as you can see I ran out of cavity-space after putting in all the pear pieces, so pear-stuffed squash it was.

I then added a decent knob of butter (feel free to adjust to taste), a sprinkling each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a dessert spoonful of dark brown (Muscovado-type) sugar for a more caramel-esque flavour, although you could probably leave out the sugar if you’re using sweeter dessert pears or apples rather than cookers.

Then Cook Your Squash

The lid went back on the squash and the whole thing went into the oven at approx. 190°C (180°C fan-assisted?) for about 35-40 minutes. It’s important to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your squash. I checked mine after 20 minutes but it was nowhere near done and the pear pieces were still crunchy, but after another 20ish minutes, both squash and pear yielded nicely to a knife-point, so I decided they were probably done.

Here’s what the squash looked like when it came out of the oven:

Just look at the colour of that baked squash and all that lovely, spicy, butter and sugar-infused stewed pear! Doesn’t it look delicious? Luckily the ‘Blue Kuri’ seems to be a squash whose skin hardens on cooking, rather than softening up, so the whole thing kept its shape quite nicely.

Serve it Forth!

To serve up, I cut the squash in half, added a few toasted cashews, then finished it off with a dollop of vanilla-flavoured yoghurt. Double or whipped cream, ice cream, custard or anything else you fancy would serve just as well, I’m sure.

I’ll admit it’s not the most elegant presentation, but then this is a hearty, warming dish packed full of the flavours of autumn; one for digging into and devouring, rather than daintily nibbling at:

The Verdict…

Ah, it was so tasty! The dense, creamy squash flesh was sweetened by the butter and sugar, and the spicy pear compote added a mouthwatering flavour-boost. The thick yoghurt contrasted really nicely – as would anything similarly unctuous – and the whole thing was mouthful after mouthful of delight.

So, yes, I can heartily recommend this one, do give it a try. Ideally pick a squash that you know will be suitably dense-fleshed – ‘Blue Kuri’ obviously works well, and so would ‘Crown Prince’ or, I suspect ‘Turks Turban’, which would be very decorative as well – rather than one that’s likely to be a bit watery, or the whole thing could dissolve into soup. But if your squash does collapse, don’t worry! It probably means the skin is edible as-is, in which case you can just scoop it straight from baking dish to bowl and scoff the lot.

Do let me know if you’re inspired to give this apple or pear-stuffed squash a go yourself, I’d love to hear how you get on, via the comments below.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Well, it’s more an idea or suggestion than an actual recipe…

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