OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for roasted kuri squash stuffed with apples, cranberries and other delicious autumn things.
This week, leading up to Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day, we have a feast of Northwest food news. Next week we’ll be digesting our green bean casserole, but we’ll be back on Dec. 1 with fresh food finds and a cozy new recipe. To learn more about how to support Indigenous communities in Oregon, visit the Native American Youth and Family Center website.
Oregon certainly didn’t invent the standard Thanksgiving dishes, but so many of our favorites come from Oregon ingredients or things that the Northwest does especially well. Green beans (we’re partial to the classic casserole), mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce all taste best when made from local crops, and you can wash it down with a pinot noir from Yamhill County or cider from any of the 60 or so Oregon cideries. No table is complete without a gooey pan of macaroni and cheese, and Oregon dairies produce some of the world’s best cheeses. Heck, even if you don’t eat turkey, two of America’s best-known veggie meat substitutes come from Oregon. Do you know what they are? Read on to find out!
‘Oregon Art Beat’ offers feasts for the senses, bringing back Indigenous fire ecology, a trio of food stories from Southern Oregon, a vintage year for apples, how beer bears a changing climate and good things in markets
Freshly picked morsels from the Pacific Northwest food universe:
When Güero chef and owner Megan Sanchez saw an empty restaurant space just blocks from her food cart, she never thought she’d be able to fill it — now her restaurant isn’t just one of the most loved torta spots in town, it’s also one of the prettiest dining spaces Portland has to offer. OPB’s Eric Slade shares her story on the latest “Oregon Art Beat.”
Portland food photographer Isabella Cassini embraces edible chaos in her latest photo series, “Splashes, Crashes, and Smashes.” OPB’s Steven Tonthat shares her beautiful mess on the latest “Oregon Art Beat.”
Indigenous fire ecology returns to the Willamette Valley
Before non-Native settlers arrived, Oregon’s oak savannah was meticulously managed by Kalapuyan peoples in what are now Lane and Linn counties. Using fire to clear underbrush and eradicate pests meant that useful plants and game animals would return year after year. A new federal grant will now support the return of these Indigenous practices, KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.
Food news from Southern Oregon
Over the past week, our friends at Jefferson Public Radio shared a swath of food stories — here are the highlights:
- Roman Battaglia shares how one greengrocer is single-handedly bringing food waste collection to the Rogue Valley.
- Oregon is America’s third-largest producer of cranberries, and Ella Hutcherson reports on this year’s harvest on the South Coast.
- Ashland-based Rogue Food Unites celebrates one year of free farmers markets, Jane Vaughan reports.
A banner apple year
For Northwest apple growers, 2023 wasn’t just a good year — it was one of the best in recent history. Anna King reports for Northwest News Network on what made this year’s “vintage crop.”
An evolving landscape for beer
When it comes to brewing beer in Oregon, winter barley and better hops are just a couple of the strategies that researchers, farmers and brewers are using to weather a changing climate. Read about it here.
Good things in markets
Most local farmers markets are winding it down for winter, so if that’s where you shop, now’s the time to score all the things you’ll need for the holiday table. Crucifers like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are at their peak; potatoes, carrots, and parsnips taste of sweet earth; and it is still very much decorative (and edible) gourd season. The squash, cranberries and apples for this week’s recipe are all from Oregon growers, as are the persimmons, quince and medlars that’ll go into next week’s pie and chutney. Our wild mushroom season continues to be a bounty — look out for chanterelles and matsutake (and at somewhat reasonable prices, at that!).
Stuffed roasted winter squash with apples, cranberries and blue cheese
Next week is Thanksgiving, which, suspiciously, happens to occur during World Vegan Month. Veg-friendly Oregon is the birthplace of two of the best-known vegetarian products in America — Gardenburger and Tofurky. (Gardenburgers are from Gresham and Tofurky was born in Forest Grove.) But if you’re not looking for another meat analog for your vegetarian centerpiece (believe us when we say frozen meatless chicken patties made for some sad Thanksgiving dinners back in the early ‘90s!), a stuffed squash has so much to offer. You can fill a kabocha with chestnut-studded rice pilaf, or you could go with spicy black beans, corn and quinoa in an acorn squash. We like a roasted kuri with a little of everything autumnal: nutty whole-grain bread, diced apples and dried cranberries, but we go off the vegan script and add a bit of chicken sausage and crumbled blue cheese. Serves 4-6 as a main course or more as a side.
Note: You can use a cup of chopped shiitake mushrooms instead of sausage, and sub the cheese with chopped nuts if you like. If you can’t eat gluten, you can use parboiled rice instead of bread.
1 winter squash (such as red kuri or turban), 5-7 lbs
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt and pepper
½ lb bulk chicken sausage or 2 chicken sausage links, casings removed (or use vegetarian ground sausage like Gimme Lean)
½ cup diced onion or shallots
1 celery rib, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized firm, tart apple (such as Braeburn or Gala), peeled, cored and diced
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ tsp dried sage
2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 slices stale whole grain bread (heels are fine), torn or cut into ½-inch cubes (or 3 cups bread crumbs)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola
- Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.
- Scrub the squash clean and pat it dry, then cut off the top 4 inches, leaving the stem intact to create a lid with a handle. Scoop the seeds and guts out of the squash (save the seeds for planting or eating if you like), and rub the inside and outside with 1 tsp of the oil. Sprinkle the inside with a couple pinches of salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage, breaking it into crumbles with a spoon as it cooks, until evenly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Scoop the cooked sausage into a large mixing bowl with a slotted spoon.
- Add the onions, celery and garlic to the pan and saute until they begin to become translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the apples and saute until they begin to caramelize on the edges, about 3 minutes.
- Add the bourbon (if using) and broth to the pan and scrape up the browned bits with your spoon or spatula, then add the cranberries, sage and a few more pinches of salt and pepper. Scrape the onion-apple mixture into the bowl with the cooked sausage and stir to combine.
- Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl and stir until they sponge up the brothy sausage-apple mixture, then stir in ¼ cup of the blue cheese. (It’s OK if they’re still a little bit dry because the squash will release liquid as it cooks.)
- Spoon the stuffing into the squash, put the lid on the squash (it might sit on top more like a little hat than a snug lid), and roast until it’s tender enough to be pierced with the tip of a knife, about 60-75 minutes. Take the lid off the pumpkin, gently fluff the stuffing with a fork, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on the stuffing. Return to the oven and roast until the top of the stuffing is toasty, another 15 minutes or so. To serve, slice the squash into wedges.