Turbans were once all the rage in Hollywood headgear, but their namesake squash has seen nary a taste of stardom. Many people buy turban squash around Halloween because it’s tri-colored beauty makes it a perfect decoration. Actually cooking and eating it, however, seems to be a much less popular thing to do. Cutting a large winter squash can be intimidating, I realize, because it’s something most cooks don’t do very often. Once you taste the meat of this sweet and tender turban, I’m sure you will find that the effort you put into the preparation was worthwhile. Plus, the health benefits of winter squash include being a major source of alpha- and beta-carotene as well as anti-inflammatory properties. While the turban squash is starchy and high in carbs, we must remember that not all starches are created equal. Because I have included a non-GMO soy product in this recipe, the combination of digestion-friendly carbs and available protein will make this an extremely satisfying meal.
Unlike a pumpkin, the turban squash comes with a built-in line to follow as you cut. Simply insert the tip of a sharp knife between the top and body of the squash, then cut around the line and remove the top. Scoop out the strings and seeds, then place your squash on a lined baking sheet and pour some water inside the cavity. It’s that simple to bake. You can save the seeds to roast just as you would pumpkin seeds, too.
After about an hour baking in a 350 degree oven, the squash will be tender. I scooped the soft squash into the water and mixed it carefully, making sure not to harm the outside of the turban which serves as a lovely bowl. I added a variety of sliced vegetables, spices and Soyrizo to the hand-pureed squash, put the top back on it and returned it to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
Since I was making this up as I went, I had no idea if the mixture of ingredients I added would blend or clash. When it cooled enough for me to try a small cupful, I was pleased. The chopped vegetables still held a bit of crispness, while the turban squash added a creamy sweetness, and the Soyrizo and jalapeño gave this recipe a delightfully unexpected kick. I didn’t add any sweetener, and the whole time it was baking, I wondered if I should have. When I tasted it, I knew I had made the right decision. There is no need to add any butter, fat or sugar to this recipe.
1 turban squash
1 cup water
1/2 package (6 ozs.) Soyrizo, casing removed
1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced
2 tomatillos, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1 tsp. chile powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You may have to adjust your racks to make sure the turban will clear the top of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil or baking paper (plain parchment will brown to a scary degree, so I don’t recommend using it.)
2. Insert the tip of a knife into the natural line between the top and bottom of the turban squash. Once you have poked the knife through to the inside, cut around the squash to separate the cap from the body of the squash.
3. Using a spoon, gently remove the strings and seeds from the inside. Once most of the fibers are removed, you may want to use your hands to coax out any stubborn seeds and fibers.
4. Add a cup of water to the inside cavity of the squash. Place it on the baking sheet and insert it into the oven.
5. Bake for approximately 60 minutes. If your squash is on the small side, you may want to check it after 40 minutes to see if it’s flesh is tender yet. Remove from the oven when the squash inside the walls of the turban scoops easily into the water.
6. Carefully scoop the flesh of the squash into the water and mix together until it resembles a puree.
7. Add the chopped vegetables and spices to the inside. The cavity isn’t that large, so it may hold less than you imagine it would. Squeeze the Soyrizo from the casing in small chunks and stir gently into the mixture, being careful not to pierce the walls of the cooked squash.
8. Place the cap of the squash back on the body. Return it to the oven for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.
10. Ladle the mixture into bowls to serve. Enjoy this fresh, sweet and spicy blend of flavors!
Notes: We garnished our squash bowls with pichuberries which added a picturesque finishing touch to this already attractive dish. we also added fresh dill which enhanced the taste of each bite. Of course, if you prefer cilantro or parsley, those herbs would work as well.
I would be the crazy tia named in this recipe, always trying to convince my nieces and nephews to eat their veggies in new and creative ways.
This recipe is vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.