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Chersonskaya on the vine - Summer 2012

Chersonskaya on the vine – Summer 2012

Chersonskaya squash. There seem to be a fair number of people out there wondering about this variety because the top two search terms that bring people to my blog are “chersonskaya” and “chersonskaya squash.” Or, maybe I am one of the few people on the internet writing about it. Whatever the case, people are itching for some information, so I will provide a bit more.

An acquaintance of mine emailed me after reading my first post about the squash that the name Chersonskaya directly designates the squash from a particular region of the Ukraine. The details of the name and the connections are escaping me now. Too bad I don’t write this stuff down!

Since my last post on the squash, we have cracked open another one. This time, the squash was not quite as sweet. My guess is that it was a later setting one, and wasn’t quite ripe enough. Nonetheless, it worked well incorporated into squash based recipes. Chersonskaya, I find, is interchangeable with other squashes such as acorn or butternut. And the thing I really love about this squash is that when I bake it, I can then put two to three portions aside in the freezer for future meals.

A big hit with my family was “Baked Shells with Winter Squash” from Martha Stewart.  Follow the link to find the recipe.

We also used the squash with a recipe that came with are weekly CSA share. This is a hearty dish that is wonderful on a cold winter evening. We adapted it a bit.

Baked Stuffed Winter Squash

3 or 4 C winter squash puree

1 Tb olive Oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 lb sweet Italian sausage (or veggie sausage), slice into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces

1 Tb dried thyme

1 egg, beaten (optional)

1/2 C dried bread crumbs

1/2 C raisins

1/2 C chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). If you need to cook your squash, cut in half, remove seeds, place face down in about 1/4 inch of water and bake for 40 minutes or until tender. We started with squash that we had already cooked and froze.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cooks onions and celery until tender. Stir in the sausage and thyme. Cook and stir until evenly brown.

3. If you are starting from whole squash, carefully scrape the squash from the rinds and set the rinds aside. You will later put the squash mixture back into them for baking. Mash the squash pulp or puree for a smoother texture. If starting from frozen puree, you will use a small baking dish.

4. Mix together the sausage mixture with egg, bread crumbs, raisins, and pecans. Scoop into the rinds or a small, greased baking dish.

5. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through.

Notes: I omitted the egg (due to egg allergies) and forgot to add the pecans. The dish was wonderful without these ingredients.

Enjoy!