After a lopsided over-sugary potluck brunch a few years ago (potlucks can be unlucky sometimes), I've vowed to bring only savory dishes to the Easter gathering. This year, I also happened to have six pounds of blue hubbard squash to use, so I ended up with a savory pumpkin butter that I called Curried Squash Mash with Feta Cheese and Spiced Pepitas. It's delicious, filling, and even though it's savory, the spices in the garam masala really bridge well with sweets, so it's a great side for brunch.
The fun part for me was inventing a new take on the deviled egg. I mean, if you have pounds of curried squash mash and a dozen decorated hard boiled eggs it's only a matter of time before something awesome happens. Right?
Curried Blue Hubbard Squash Mash
This is a great way to process the mountains of roasted squash guaranteed if you have at least one blue hubbard. Freeze what you can't eat in a week and consider a few of your future lunches already half-made. The mash is gluten free, lactose free and vegan, but, of course, topping it with cheese or substituting cream for nut butter changes a couple of those credentials. Topping this mash with fresh squeezed lemon and pepitas would make a delicious vegan version.
6 lbs roasted seeded and peeled blue hubbard squash
3 teaspoons salt
1 yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 cup walnut or almond butter (or cream, if you're into that)
up to 1 tablespoon sugar
up to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Heat the squash over medium heat and then mash with a potato masher until smooth. It may help to alternate mashing and cooking a few times, so this process may take a half hour. While the squash is becoming ever softer, smoother and more reduced, saute the onion in oil and salt until the onions are clear, then add the garam masala and curry powder and heat until the spices are fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add this mixture, and the nut butter to the squash after you're happy with the squash consistency and confident that you wont want to mash it some more. Continue to reduce the squash until it is flavorful enough and sturdy enough to be a self-respecting side dish (How would it feel on a plate next to mashed potatoes?). Add a teaspoon of sugar and/or a tablespoon of vinegar at a time until the sugar balances the salt and the sharpness of the vinegar balances the mellowness of the squash. The final amount of vinegar and sugar will depend on the volume, flavor and moisture content of the squash. This can be served as a side dish and is super classy with crumbled feta cheese or fresh squeezed lemon and spiced pepitas.
Pepitas is synonymous with pumpkin seeds only it sounds sexier. These guys are great on pretty much anything, but yogurt, soup and curries are the first to jump to mind.
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
Combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest in a small bowl and set it, along with a plate or parchment paper, within arms reach of your heat source. Heat the pumkin seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. When all of the pumpkin seeds are puffed up and many of them have turned brown, add the sugar mixture and continue to stir until the sugar is melted. If the sugar doesn't start to melt within a few seconds, turn up the heat, continuing to stir constantly. Once the sugar has melted, immediately pour the seeds onto the plate or parchment paper and spread them out to cool.
Hard boiled eggs
Curried Squash Mash (see above)
Spiced Pepitas (see above)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Peel and halve the hard boiled eggs. Place the yolks in a bowl and set the halves aside. To the bowl add an amount of squash mash that is twice the volume of the yolks--it's ok to eyeball it. Incorporate the yolks into the mash, taste it and add more mash if you wish. Place a generous amount of mash into each egg half and sprinkle the eggs with crumbled feta and spiced pepitas.