Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall = Squash

Butternut squash, pumpkin squash, acorn squash, squash sammiches. . . . the list goes on.
Wiki taught me some cool squash history in fact:
Squash was one of the "Three Sisters" planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize (corn), beans, and squash. These were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided ground cover to limit weeds. The beans provided nitrogen fixing for all three crops.

How clever! Ah, a return to our small farm roots; it's a bummer I no longer have a backyard to tempt me to try to plant these three and tend to them for a month before I forget they're there and they die.

If you're in a squashy mood, these two nummerific Aylene recipes are sure to please, especially the gratin. * melts *

Roasted Butternut Squash Dip

Terrific with toasted baguette slices or pita chips, this creamy, sweet-savory dip can be prepared up to three days in advance. Refrigerate in a microwave-safe container, then reheat in a microwave on high for one to two minutes or just until warmed.

1 (2-pound) butternut squash
1 small sweet onion, trimmed and quartered
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or whole sour cream
¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Brush cut sides of squash halves, cut sides of onion quarter, and garlic cloves with oil. Arrange squash halves, cut sides down, on a jelly-roll pan, or baking sheet with sides; arrange onion quarters and garlic cloves on pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until just starting to caramelize. Cool slightly. Peel squash. Squeeze garlic cloves to extract pulp.

Place squash, onion, and garlic pulp in a food processor; process until smooth. Add crème fraîche and remaining ingredients; process to combine. Serve warm.

Yield: 4 Cups (serving size: ¼ cup)

CALORIES 35 (28% from fat); FAT 1.1g; PROTEIN 0.6g; CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CARBS 6.3g

This can also be turned into butternut squash soup. Just add fat free half and half or chicken broth to the finished or leftover recipe until you reach the desired consistency and reheat.

Butternut Squash Gratin

Serves 4-6

1 medium-size butternut squash (2-2 ½ lbs.)
(Trader Joes sells already peeled and cubed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup grated Gruyere (hard type of Swiss-no holes)
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
½ cup freshly toasted breadcrumbs-sourdough is great (not
finely ground from the store)
2 tablespoons butter, diced
1 tablespoon fresh minced basil
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425°

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

➢ Using a knife or a sturdy vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the squash. Depending on the size of your squash, cutting the neck from the base may make it easier to do this. Scoop out the seeds. Dice the squash into ¾-inch pieces, and transfer to the sheet pan.

➢ Drizzle the olive oil over the squash and season with the black pepper and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Toss to coat, then roast for 15 minutes, or until the squash is just tender, but not quite cooked through. Set aside.

➢ Lower oven temperature to 350°

➢ Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, gently heat the cream. Gently whisk in the cheeses, ½ teaspoon of salt, white pepper and nutmeg, stirring until the cheese is melted and the spices incorporated. Set aside and keep warm.

➢ Transfer the cooked squash to an 8-inch square baking dish. Pour the cream and cheese mixture evenly over the squash.

➢ Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture, then scatter the butter on top. Season with salt and pepper.

➢ Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cream sauce is bubbling.

➢ Meanwhile, toss the herbs (basil, thyme, parsley) together in a small bowl. Remove the gratin from the oven, and garnish with the herb mixture.

1 comment:

M. Quinn Sweeney said...

I think 3 sisters was also the title of an "adult film"

I love squash, but not in an "adult film love" kind of way.