Monday, September 30, 2013

Winter Vegetables: Butternut Squash

Fall is here, though it may still feel like the last vestiges of summer. Fall is fun, there are pumpkins everywhere, from crates at Home Depot, to paper cups of latte's brewed in chain coffee shops. But I am going to talk about a different squash, one that is around for more than just the month of October.

Butternut squash! Now, there are not many sqaushes my husband will eat. Zuchini? Nay, nay, only if brilliantly disguised in the base of a marinara sauce, or grated into a beef stew. Acorn? Pretended to like it to win me over in our first month of dating. Spaghetti squash? Out right spit it out, even when pared with a bolognese  sauce. (Who wont grin and bear it with a good bolognase? Not that guy).

Butternut, however, has been a consistent winner. Butternut squash is pretty versatile, because once prepared, it's smooth creamy texture blends well into sauces or is great as a stand alone soup. See below of a wonderful base that can be used to make several delicious recipes. Never fear, a "sqaushy taste" is not detectable.

1) Peel the skin with a potato peeler off one butternut squash. You want to strip this guy down to the flesh insides!
2) With a sharp knife, cut the squash in half. Or you can accidentally drop in on the floor and have it split in half naturally.
3) Clean out the seeds from both halves. Oh, isn't it reminiscent of pumpkin carving? It really is. Use a melon baller, or a spoon.
4) Dice up your squash into cubes. This can be a workout if you don't have a sharp knife. Maybe step one should be "Sharpen your Santoku Knife!" (that's my usual knife of choice. but chef's knives are great too! Clearly, I think of these things as I write)
5) Dice up one onion, and 1-2 garlic cloves.
6) Heat a large pan on medium heat, add olive oil, and when hot, throw in the squash, onions, and garlic.
7) Cook until the onions have turned translucent and the butternut squash has a little bit of carmelization 10-15 minutes. Turn to low, adding a little water of chicken stock if the mixture seems dry, and cover. Let cook for 30-45 minutes. When the butternut squash is soft, turn off hear and cover. Once it's cool, pour into a blender, or pull out your immersion blender, adding enough water or stock until its a sauce-y consistency (similar to pasta sauce).

Now what you make with this base is completely up to you.

You can make a super creamy Butternut Squash Lasagna:

(Don't forget to pick a wine! Wine is never a bad choice!)

You can make an excellent Turkey Tetrazzini that is super festive to the season by adding as little as 1/2 a cup of butternut squash to your cream sauce (I added about a cup):

(Add lots of creamy cheese. Because you can. Look at that beautiful orange sauce, btw. It's brilliant really.)

Or you can add more chicken stock and half and half (or I am sure, plain cashew or almond milk would be great too) to enjoy a delicious bowl of soup.

(no picture because I ate it all)

Not cooking up the fruits of your labor today? That's okay, store in freezer safe containers, or plastic bags to de-thaw at a later time and make some of these delicious meals.

I try to eat produce in season. It's cheaper, it's greener, and it mixes dinner up.  Nothing is more boring than getting stuck in a cooking rut.

And with that I bid you adieu. Maybe next time we'll talk about Kale......

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