Well, we just finished with the summer squashes and now it’s on to winter squashes, the most famous being pumpkins. Almost everyone likes the naturally sweet winter squashes such as acorn, Hubbard, delicata, butternut and other less well-known varieties. Most people think of the holidays when we speak of yams, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, often candied which is puzzling as they are so naturally sweet.
Winter squashes can be halved and stuffed, added to hearty winter soups and stews or steamed and eaten with a little butter or olive oil and fresh herbs. You can slice butternut squash thinly and add the slices to sandwiches, substitute half of the butter in your favorite muffin or cookie recipe with pureed winter squash; use your imagination! Yams and sweet potatoes can simply be baked as you would a potato or they can be mashed, also like mashed potatoes. Add roasted garlic and fresh herbs for a wonderful taste treat. You can rub slices of any winter squash with a bit of olive oil and grill or bake them. Winter squashes are very high in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.
Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for butternut squash:
Butternut Squash Soup
To roast or not to roast?
- 1 (2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 6 cups chicken stock
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. Over medium heat, place a large heavy-bottom pot. When it’s medium hot (about 2 minutes) add the olive oil or ghee, swirling pot to spread the oil/melted ghee. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender to puree or use an immersion blender to puree. If you used a blender, add soup back to the pot. Season as desired and serve.
If you want more depth of flavor roast the squash first, toss the cubed squash with a little olive oil and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, turning once.
Some seasoning options:
- 1 teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
- A grating of nutmeg
- Fresh thyme or sage, chopped added to soup the last few minutes of cooking, saving a little for garnish.
- 1 teaspoon curry powder and a grating of fresh ginger
- One-half of an apple grated and cooked with the soup
- Instead of fresh garlic, roast a whole head of garlic and add at the end of cooking time.
Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad
The bitter from the arugula makes a wonderful contrast with the sweet from the butternut squash.
2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes
4 tablespoons walnut oil, divided
½ cup red pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
2 tablespoons fresh orange or tangerine juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups arugula (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup pistachios, dry toasted, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss squash and red peppers with the walnut oil and place on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Roast 15 minutes. Using spatula, turn squash over. Roast until edges are browned and squash is tender, about 15 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the remainder sea salt, if desired.
In a small bowl whisk the citrus juices with a little freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in the remaining walnut oil, and taste to correct seasonings.
Place the butternut squash in a serving bowl with the pistachios. Add a tablespoon or two of the dressing and toss to coat the squash. Taste again and correct the seasonings.
In a separate bowl, toss the arugula with a tablespoon of the dressing to coat evenly. Toss well again and taste to correct seasonings. Place the arugula on a plate arrange the butternut squash mixture artfully on top and serve! A little chopped fresh parsley is a nice addition as garnish, if you like.