—by Kathryn Tempas
I plant a variety of winter squash in my garden, and in late September/early October I begin harvesting these jewels of fall and winter. Squash stores well and is an excellent source of vitamin A. You’ll find local squash at a good price, and here are a few tempting recipes to get you started. These recipes use butternut squash, which is somewhat shaped like a bowling pin. I find it easiest to peel if you cut off the bottom to make it level.
If you have a small household, do not fear. Just cut the squash in half before peeling (in either direction) and put the extra half in the refrigerator, after covering the exposed surface with cling wrap, or placing it upside down on a saucer. Another option—you can peel the squash, seed and cube it, then leave it in water in your refrigerator for several days, pulling from your ready-to-use squash for these recipes.
Basic Roasted Butternut Squash
Peel, seed, and cube a butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400°F. Take approximately 1 cup of squash per family member and toss with 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on a flat baking sheet and roast for 20–25 minutes. Test for doneness with a fork. Serve as is, drizzle with a little maple syrup, add it to risotto or a fall salad, or use in recipes such as those found below.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Pasta, Sage, and Bacon
3 cups roasted butternut squash (recipe above)
10 ounces pasta (choose a fun shape!)
3 slices bacon
1⁄2 cup onion, cut in strips
1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10 sage leaves, chopped
1⁄2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
While the squash is roasting, heat water to a boil and cook pasta. Reserve some cooking water.
While the pasta is boiling, cook bacon in a large sauté pan. Remove bacon, along with excess bacon fat. (You’ll need a little to sauté the onion, but not too much.) Crumble bacon and set aside.
Sauté onion in the remaining fat for 3 minutes. Add sage leaves and red pepper flakes and sauté 2 more minutes.
Add cooked pasta, roasted squash, and crumbled bacon and toss to combine. Add reserved cooking water, if needed, to moisten. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper, and serve.
To make this dish vegetarian friendly, omit the bacon, and toss in toasted walnuts or pine nuts.
Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1⁄4 cup whole blanched almonds
1/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1 cup green beans (frozen or fresh)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1–2 teaspoons harissa or Chinese chili paste (optional)
1 cup couscous
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1-1⁄2 cups water
In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook 3–5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, stock, almonds, raisins, spices, and squash. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Mix in green beans and chickpeas; simmer 10 more minutes.
Just before serving, stir lemon juice and harissa, if desired, into the stew. Serve atop couscous.
Couscous: Heat 1-1⁄2 cups water with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Serves 5.
Southwestern Black Bean Squash Hominy Stew
1 tablespoon canola or soy oil
1⁄2 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 chicken breast, cooked, then diced (optional)
Heat oil in a soup pot. Sauté onion and garlic 3–5 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Add squash and broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender.
Stir in hominy, black beans, and chicken (if desired). Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.
Serve garnished with shredded green cabbage and a squeeze of lime juice (optional). Serves 4.
(Recipes adapted from The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook and http://www.marthastewart.com.)
[Kathryn is writing this article during the State Fair, and the temperature outside does not make her think of fall at all. Nevertheless, in a month she’ll be enjoying these recipes, as she hopes you will, too.]