A slow cooker, is a wonderful machine for cooking your dinner while you are at work during the day. Slow cooking lends itself to foods like squash that come out tender and juicy. Couple the squash with flavorful seasonings or meats, and the flavors of the other ingredients permeate the squash during the long cooking period. In addition to a stew or a casserole, a slow cooker squash meal can also be a sweet dish.
Stews and Soups
Soups and stews are among the most common recipes for slow cooking squash. For a toasty flavor, start by sautéing chopped onions and garlic in a skillet with some olive oil. If the squash meal will have a tomato sauce base, add some tomato paste and water to the skillet. If the stew or soup will be broth based, add chicken or beef broth. Put your liquid into the slow cooker and add cubed squash. Throw in other ingredients that you may like, such as chickpeas, chopped chard or spinach leaves. A rind fragment from parmesan cheese makes a good addition as well. Sprinkle a packed of dried dressing mix over the squash. Put the lid on your slow cooker and cook at low heat for eight hours. When your meal is ready, stir it and ladle into bowls to serve hot. Crusty bread or a fresh salad with creamy dressing make good accompaniments.
Squash casserole is a staple of Southern cooking. Batter slices of yellow summer squash or zucchini or a combination of both. Mix some melted butter with some crushed croutons or crumbled saltine crackers. Layer half the croutons or crackers in the bottom of the slow cooker and layer the battered squash over the stuffing. Sprinkle with some finely chopped onions or shredded carrots. A layer of cheddar or jack cheese over the squash gives added body, flavor and protein. Cover with the rest of the crushed croutons or crackers and let it cook on low heat for four or five hours. Test the squash with a fork to make sure it is tender before serving.
Squash can also be made into lasagna in the slow cooker. Cook winter squash such as butternut, turban or acorn squash, till soft and purée in the blender. Use one type of squash or several together. Another option is to buy ready-made frozen squash purée and thaw it. Layer the squash with ricotta cheese and uncooked lasagna noodles in the slow cooker. Add a dash of nutmeg to the squash for flavor. Ideas for other layers are cooked and sliced celery, onions or carrots, and cooked broccoli. Keep layering until you use up the ingredients, finishing with ricotta. Sprinkle some grated mozzarella over the top for interest. Cook the lasagna on low heat for about three or four hours until the noodles absorb the moisture from the vegetables and become soft. Serve it hot with a green salad with creamy dressing on the side and warm garlic bread.
You can also feature squash in a sweet slow cooker recipe. Combine cubes of butternut or other winter squash with chopped apples or pears, dried cranberries and a little cinnamon and nutmeg in your slow cooker. Stir in some chopped white onion, or a little brown sugar or maple syrup for interest if you like. Substitute raisins for the cranberries or use both. Spice it up with some ground cloves or mace. A dash of orange or lemon juice lightens up the flavor of this dish. Cook covered on low for about four hours. Stir occasionally. The sweet squash meal is ready when the squash is tender.
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