Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butternut Squash Bonanza

I really love vegetables. Probably too much. Sometimes, especially in the fall, I spend a lot of time day dreaming about things like sweet potatoes. In the summer I mull over how beautiful the color of eggplants are. My relationship with veggies is probably much like that of a teenage girl and Justin Bieber. Like, I would probably put posters of squash and tomatoes on my ceiling if I thought Peter would not retaliate by insisting that we fill the house with his mountain posters.

One of my favorites is Butternut squash. It is a winter squash. But! You may be surprised to learn what that actually means, as I was. A few years ago in the fall I went to buy some Butternut squash at the farmer's market. I assumed there would be weekly offerings of that vegetable throughout the winter since it is a winter squash. Wrong! I inquired how much longer this particular vendor would be bringing the squash to market. He told me that it would be the final week (remember, this is early fall). I was like "...what?" Turns out they are called winter squash not because they grow in the winter but because they will last all winter! Good to know!

This vegetable is so versatile and nutritious. It can be used in everything from cakes and pies to stir fry. And indeed they will last all winter. Last year I bought several in October and they kept through January or February. So I bought a case of them this year- which I was told was 12 squash. Though I just counted the ones I have left after using several and there are 13. So apparently it was more like 18 squash. But I do not know if they will last all winter because I have all sorts of plans for them! And much like a tween anticipating a Jonas Brother's concert I can hardly contain my excitement and am having to stifle much squealing. Recently on my favorite recipe website they had a feature on Butternut squash. I've made several of the recipes. Here are the keepers so far:

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots
I did alter this one. I used 16 oz of fettuccine rather than 4 oz of pappardelle pasta. I don't know what pappardelle pasta is. And I also added a boatload more parmesan than called for. But this had a really nice flavor.

Pork and Squash Stir-Fry

Beef and Butternut Squash Chile

Butternut Squash Spice Cake
This is delicious. It's moist and sweet. And it's not bad for you as far as cakes go. It's made with whole wheat flour. Yumtacular.

Curried Coconut Squash Soup (Recipe posted below)
This one was emailed to me by my friend Vanessa. It was fantastic.

I have a few other recipes that I intend to try soon. And I also plan to puree some batches for John. As always, I'll let you know how they turn out!

Curried Coconut Squash Soup Recipe:
2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced gingerroot
1 tablespoon (15 mL) curry powder or paste
4 cups (1 L) water (my note: can substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth)
7 to 8 cups (1.8 to 2 L) diced butternut squash (1 large 3-pound/1.4-kg squash)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons (6 mL) salt *(my note: use less)
One 14-ounce (398-mL) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons (25 mL) lemon juice

1. Warm oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Stir in onions, garlic, gingerroot and cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle on curry powder and cook 1 minute, tossing continuously.

2. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Mix in squash, sugar, salt, and lower heat to a lively simmer. Cook 30 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Pour in coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Puree soup in batches in a blender and return to a smaller pot, if desired. Reheat before serving, if necessary.

From Vegetarian Classics (Quill) by Jeanne Lemlin

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