Posts Tagged ‘butternut squash’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting Through Squash

September 22, 2015

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Fall is squash season. Butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash are just a few of the wonderful vegetables from the gourd family. Once roasted, or baked, the flesh becomes tender and delicious. Before cooking, they can be hard as a rock and nearly impossible to cut through. Rather than risk losing a limb while hacking at a roley poley squash with a large, sharp knife, we suggest softening it in the microwave first.

Rinse the outside of the squash to get the dirt off before cutting into it. Pierce the skin of the squash in multiple places with a fork or the tip of a knife.  Microwave it for a couple of minutes, until it is just soft enough to cut through. Don’t leave it in long enough to start cooking; just cook it for enough time to make the flesh a bit more pliable. Although time varies based on the size of the squash and the strength of the microwave, 3-4 minutes is a good estimate. This can also be done in the oven, and will take about 15 minutes to soften. Place it on a baking pan so the juices that release won’t mess up the oven.

Remove it from the microwave, and carefully slice it in half. It will be hot! Scoop out the seeds from the cavity of the squash and discard. Peel or cook according to your recipe and enjoy!

Bonus tip: Try this before carving your Halloween pumpkin. It will make the job much easier and more precise!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Butternut Squash Soup

November 20, 2013

The weather is changing and winter is in the air. For me, that spells the beginning of soup season. I used to start Thanksgiving dinner with pumpkin or butternut squash soup. As the crowd grew, and the accompanying extra dishes grew, I pulled back. This year, I am craving a warm start to the meal, and this soup fills the bill. I will serve it in teacups, to prevent everyone from filling up before the main event!

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Although the “unrecipe” calls for butternut squash, feel free to substitute fresh pumpkin.

This recipe serves 4-6 people.

Savory Butternut Squash Soup:

Finely chop the white and light green part of one leek, and saute it in butter or olive oil, until softened but not browned. Add 3-4 pounds of butternut squash, peeled and cubed*,  1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and  2 tablespoon of cumin, and continue to stir for a few minutes to allow the ingredients to merge. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a few tablespoons of Sherry, and cook long enough for it to evaporate into the mixture.

Add about 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, (enough to fully cover the squash), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until the squash is soft.

Puree the soup in a blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth. Add more stock if the soup is getting too thick. Taste, and correct seasonings if necessary. Stir in a little more Sherry if desired, when ready to serve.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and enjoy!

* many specialty food markets, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have already peeled and cubed butternut squash, which makes this much easier to make!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Peel Squash

November 19, 2013

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I love winter squash; butternut, acorn and even fresh pumpkin. Peeling and dicing them; not so much. I often feel like I need a machete to slice through them, and fear that I will not come through the cutting process with the same amount of fingers I started with. This tip changed all that, and made the process of cutting hard squash much easier.
Rinse the dirt off of the outside of the squash. Use the tip of a sharp knife to poke a few holes in the squash to allow the steam to escape (and prevent it from exploding) and pop it into the microwave for 1-2 minutes until it is just soft enough to cut. If the squash is still too hard, try another minute. Just don’t leave it in there long enough to start cooking. This will make cutting it open a breeze!

Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Cut each half into smaller pieces and slide your knife between the skin and the flesh of the squash to remove the skin. This is easier in longer strips, as opposed to small chunks. Once it is peeled, cut it into smaller pieces, depending on what the recipe dictates.

You should have perfectly peeled squash with minimal waste, and all 10 fingers, when you are done!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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CSA Tuesday: It’s a Wrap!

December 20, 2012

This week marks the end of our CSA series for the season. I have mixed reviews about it. On one hand, I did become acquainted with a few new vegetables, and I did need to flex a little culinary muscle to use some of the items I received.

On the other hand, there was a lot of waste. Things that went bad before I could get to them, and things I just didn’t like that much that kept on coming.

This week we received more beets ( yum), lettuce, spinach and pumpkins (hence the things that just keep coming!). We also got butternut squash and garlic.
I have 4 day weekend coming up, so I hope to be creative and use it all up.

Spinach…That’s an easy one! Saute with garlic. ( 2 items used already!)

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I love beets!

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Roasted beets in a salad? That’s a no-brainer!

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People were leaving the pumpkins behind…they are heavy to carry, and harder to prepare. Late in the season pumpkins are not always so tasty. I will give them a try, one last time!

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photos: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Assignment

CSA Tuesday

November 7, 2012

It’s CSA day today.  Since fresh food is still not fully available in downtown Manhattan since the storm, this week’s produce share was highly anticipated.

We got a butternut squash, 4 onions, lettuce, collards, red radishes, black radishes, and sage.

I am not familiar with black radishes, so I am looking forward to experimenting with them.

Since the storm forced me to throw away several weeks worth of CSA soups from the freezer, I will be happy to make my next batch this weekend. Unless the squash becomes ravioli first, which would be lovely with a little sage butter. A lettuce salad with mixed radishes perhaps? That would leave just the collards, which are not a favorite around here.

Let’s see what happens as the week wears on..

CSA Tuesday

October 17, 2012

After last week’s bitter greens extravaganza, it was nice to see a more balanced assortment of produce from my CSA.

We got 2 butternut squash, an eggplant, a carnival squash, arugula, celery, radishes and collard greens.

There is easily the makings of a salad for the uncreative nights, and perhaps some butternut squash ravioli if the weekend is not too crazy.

I have been taking whatever is leftover at the end of the week and making “CSA Soup.” So far, they have been interesting, filling and very low calorie.

CSA Soup:

Dice a small onion and saute it in a little olive oil. Add chopped up “whatever is left” and add it to the pot. Add enough broth ( chicken or vegetable) to the pot to fully cover the vegetables.  Cover the pot and allow it to simmer until the vegetables soften. Puree the soup until it is smooth. Season according to taste.

I have used roasted butternut squash and kale, and spinach and  tat soi so far. You really can’t go wrong.

I have frozen the soup in individual containers, and taken them out for an easy, nourishing lunch.

Enjoy!

Risotto Cakes

October 6, 2012

The butternut squash and kale risotto was delicious, but we had leftovers. Risotto doesn’t reheat well. The creamy consistency goes to somewhat “gluey” pretty easily. It does however transform beautifully into risotto cakes, which gave them a new life.

Melt  butter in a frying pan. Add cold risotto formed into patties to the pan, and fry on both sides until golden brown and heated through. Enjoy!

Unrecipe of the Week: Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale

October 5, 2012

During the week, I tend to make the same old things for dinner; salmon, shrimp, and an occasional roasted chicken from Whole Foods.  It’s fast and nutritious, but a bit dull at times.

The CSA box is pushing me outside my comfort zone, and challenging me to use what is at hand to whip up dinner.

Tonight, I used the butternut squash and kale, in a rich risotto with seared scallops on top. It was comfort food at its best. Delicious, but simple enough to allow the flavors of the farm fresh ingredients to shine.

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale:

Halve the squash and rub it with a little olive oil. Roast it in a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until it is soft.

Scoop out and discard the seeds, and skin, and cut the squash into small cubes. * I only used ½ of the squash. Wrap the other half up for another use.

In a large pot, sauté one small diced onion in a little olive oil and butter. Add 1 or 2 cups of Arborio rice (depending on portion size) and stir until the rice is about to brown.

Add 1cup or so of chicken or vegetable stock and white wine to the pot, and stir until it is absorbed. Keep doing this for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender, and almost porridge-like. It is not necessary to stir it every minute, but be careful that the liquid does not cook out while it is unattended. Stirring also helps get the desired creamy consistency.

Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

While the rice is cooking, wash a couple of handfuls of the kale and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Sauté it in a bit of olive oil with some salt and pepper for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt. Set aside.

Gently mix the squash and the kale into the rice mixture. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

Seared scallops optional.

CSA Tuesday

October 3, 2012

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time to pick up our farm selection from the CSA. Today’s assortment is more balanced than it has been:

There is a huge butternut squash, a head of lettuce, some young broccoli rabe without any florets ( the jury is out on that one until it’s cooked),red potatoes, a beautiful bouquet of kale, some rosemary and a bunch of celery.

I am thinking about a simple vegetarian dinner tonight, especially if it prevents me from having to go back out in the rain again!

Any great ideas out there?

Unrecipe of the Week

October 1, 2012

Often the simplest preparations are the best. That was certainly the case with Friday night’s squash soup.

It was a rainy evening in New York City and my vegetable basket was filled with random goodies; the perfect scenario for a warm, comforting soup.

I cut a butternut squash into large pieces, drizzled them with olive oil so they didn’t dry out, and roasted them in a hot oven for about 25-30 minutes, until they were soft and caramelized.

In the meantime, I sautéed an onion in a little olive oil and added the chunks of peeled and seeded pattypan squash.

I covered the vegetables with broth, (chicken or vegetable broth will do) and simmered it until the squash was soft.
I removed and discarded the skin from roasted butternut squash and added it to the pan.
After simmering it for another 10 minutes or so, I pureed it, using an immersion blender. Adding a little more broth to smooth out the consistency, and seasoning it with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper for a bit of heat and my soup was ready.

It was creamy, rich and flavorful without any cream, or butter. The taste was all about fresh, seasonal foods, prepared in a simple manner. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and enjoy!


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