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RECIPES: From roasted squash salad to sugar pumpkin pudding cake

(Cinda Chavich photos)



Start with roasted squash, sturdy greens and toasted hazelnuts, then toss it all up with a sweet maple vinaigrette. A healthy and uber-Canadian autumn meal!

4 cups mixed greens (look for arugula, sprouts, watercress, mustard greens for extra flavour and texture)

1 medium squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced into large cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup whole hazelnuts, skins removed

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

1 green onion, finely chopped


¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons maple syrup or local fireweed honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine the greens in a large bowl.

Toss the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile, spread the whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 5 minutes, just to lightly toast and bring out the flavour. If there are any skins left on the nuts, rub them in a clean kitchen towel to remove. Then place half of the nuts on your cutting board and press under the blade of a large chef’s knife, just to break them up a bit. Leave the rest of the hazelnuts whole.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients to emulsify.

Add the roasted squash and chopped hazelnuts to the bowl of mixed greens. Drizzle in the vinaigrette and toss to combine well.

Divide between four salad plates or bowls. Top each salad with some of the crumbled goat cheese and some of the green onion. Garnish each with remaining toasted hazelnuts and serve.

Makes 4 servings.


This hearty combination is from Chef Bill Jones and his Deerholme Farm Mushroom Book (Touchwood Editions). Bill likes to use Japanese kabocha squash and the cauliflower mushrooms he forages near his home in the Cowichan Valley. You can substitute pine mushrooms or oyster mushrooms.

1 large winter squash, peeled, cleaned and cubed

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

8 cups (2 L) chicken stock, water or apple juice

2 Tbsp. (30 mL) chopped fresh sage

1 cup (250 mL) peeled and chopped onions

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) minced garlic

1 tsp. (5 ml) ground allspice

1 cup (250 mL) cream or sour cream (optional)

2 cups chopped cauliflower mushrooms

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) salted butter or olive oil

fresh chopped sage or chives to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.

Place the squash on a baking pan, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes until soft and starting to brown.

Transfer squash to a soup pot and cover with stock, water or juice. Add sage, onions, celery, garlic and allspice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Puree with a hand blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor. Add the cream if using and correct seasoning.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in butter or olive oil over medium heat until they release their juices and begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top with some of the sautéed mushrooms and garnish with chopped fresh sage or chives.

Serves 4-6.


Chef Brad Lebsack serves this colourful combination of orange squash gnocchi and spinach at RGE RD (Range Road restaurant) in Edmonton.


1.1 lb (500 g) winter squash (acorn, hubbard or kabocha)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour (or more if squash is moist)

3.5 tbsp (45 mL) semolina flour

1/3 cup (75 mL) grated pecorino cheese

1 egg

Salt to taste

To finish:

½ cup (125 mL) diced bacon

1 small onion sliced

¼ cup (50 mL) diced squash

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic

2 tbsp (25 mL) white wine

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

5 leaves tarragon

2 handfuls spinach

grated pecorino (for topping)

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub oil over cut side and place flesh down on a baking sheet.

Roast in oven at 375°F for 25 minutes, flip and roast flesh side up for 15 minutes or until tender enough to purée.

Remove and cool.

Scrape out flesh of the squash with a spoon and discard skin. Purée or push through a tamis to get a smooth paste. Place sqash into cheese cloth (or sieve) and drain overnight to remove excess water.

To make gnocchi, place squash purée into a large mixing bowl, add eggs and mix thoroughly. Add flour and cheese and mix until incorporated. Season with salt to taste.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

On a clean work surface, roll out dough into a log shape about 1½ cm diameter. Cut into 2 cm lengths, dust with flour so they do not stick together. Transfer to flat baking sheet or towel. Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until they float. Remove and cool in ice water. Drain and lay on kitchen towel.

In sauté pan, on medium heat, cook bacon 2 minutes. Add onion and diced squash to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, then add garlic and squash gnocchi and sauté together for 2 minutes. Add white wine and spinach, stirring carefully to wilt spinach, then add tarragon and butter and toss to combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve family style or divide between 4-6 individual bowls. Finish by grating pecorino over top.

Serves 4-6.


With the cheddar biscuit topping, this simple dish makes a popular family meal or potluck offering. It’s also an ingenious way to use up leftover turkey (cooked chicken or roast pork can also stand in). From High Plains: The Joy of Alberta Cuisine by Cinda Chavich (Fifth House).

2 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound peeled and seeded butternut squash, cubed

1 cup cooked or canned white beans

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup turkey or chicken broth

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, slivered

3 cups cooked, cubed turkey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cold butter

1 1/2 cups old Cheddar, shredded

2/3 cup skim milk

cayenne pepper or paprika for dusting

Boil squash cubes in salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a casserole dish, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid.

In a saucepan, melt butter and saute onions for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the broth and 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil. Stir in sage and pepper and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes.

Stir in drained beans (rinse beans if canned), parsley and cooked turkey. Pour over squash in dish. Check for seasoning.

For topping, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter using your hands or a pastry blended until crumbly. Stir in cheese and enough milk to form a sticky dough. Drop by tablespoonful over turkey mixture in baking dish.

Bake pot pie at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, until topping is golden. Dust with cayenne or paprika before serving. Serves 6.


At Calgary’s River Café, they use goat milk from Alberta’s Fairwinds Farm for the caramel sauce that tops this comforting pumpkin dessert.

6 oz (170 g) melted butter

¼ cup (60 ml) molasses

1 1/2 cup (375 ml) sugar pumpkin purée

6 whole eggs

1 ¾ cup (440 ml) white all purpose flour

½ cup (125 ml) white sugar

1 cup (250 ml) yellow sugar

1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) ground cinnamon

1 tsp (5 ml) ground nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder, sifted

Goat Milk Caramel

8 cups (2 litres) goat milk

3 cups (750 ml) white sugar

1/4 tsp (1.25 g) baking soda

1/2 cinnamon stick

For the Goat Milk Caramel

In a saucepan combine 1 litre of the milk with the sugar, and simmer slowly until it turns a caramel color (two to four hours).In another pot heat the other half of the milk with the baking soda and cinnamon stick. When the milk comes to a boil, discard the cinnamon stick, and gradually add the caramel colored milk, making sure to stir constantly. Simmer until thickened (up to another hour).

For the Pudding Cakes:

To make the puree, cut a sugar pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Roast pumpkin halves in a 350°F oven, cut side down until tender (about 1 hour). Scoop the flesh out of the skins and purée in a food processor until smooth.

Combine separately, the wet and the dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry into the wet, only until just combined.

Add enough caramel into eight 8oz (230 ml) ramekins to cover the bottoms, about 2 Tbsp each. Fill each ramekin three quarters full with the batter. Cook in a water bath in the oven set at 325°F (30-40 minutes). They are done when the cake springs back when pressed gently.

Cut around each cake with a pairing knife and remove upside-down onto individual plates. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and some extra caramel.

Serves 8.


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