Ingredient of the Week: Butternut Squash

January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

We spent the weekend in New York visiting Camille’s friends and roommates- considering the amount of time I spent trying to convince them how healthy/easy it is to cook, I figured I should put my money where my mouth is and actually write about it.

I’m hoping to use this to share my favorite standard recipes, new ingredient discoveries, and food inspiration. I’m sure you’re hoping that I’ll stop talking about food so much since I now have an outlet that listens to me (thank you, internet).

I’ve got a few ideas to make this fun and a little different: I’m going to try to do an ingredient of the week post each week (I’ll try to make most of them produce in season), a meatless Monday recipe each Monday, and of course post on the various cakes and confections I can’t keep my hands off of. I’d also like to develop a section of 30-minute-meals that’s a little less Rachael Ray and… well, just not Rachael Ray. No ‘evoo’ abbreviations here.

Today we’re on new discoveries, and for me that is our friend the butternut squash. I had never used one before a few months ago, but my roommate had one kicking around and it looked like fun. I made two delicious meals that I couldn’t stop patting myself on the back for so I figured I should share them.

Butternut Squash Soup

A few ingredients, a food processor/blender, and you’ll never buy butternut squash soup again. At least I haven’t.

1 large squash (I used butternut), peeled, seeds scooped out, and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tart, firm apples (I used granny smith), peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cups vegetable stock (I use all natural cubes without MSG)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss squash, onions, garlic, and apples with oil and throw them in a large roasting pan. season with salt and chili powder. Roast, giving them a stir every 10 minutes or so, until they are tender and lightly brown, about 40 minutes.

Purree the vegetables and the stock in a food processor. Return to pot, and add more broth if necessary. “Correct” the seasoning (add salt, pepper, anything else you may want or desire), and heat to a simmer.

Eat and enjoy.

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

Adapted from my favorite smittenkitchen.com, a (kind of strange) easy salad that caught my eye and tasted delicious. Butternut squash is (duh) so buttery-tasting, you can feel naughty eating it even though the internet tells me it’s really good for you.

Makes 4 servings

For salad:
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded (scooped out like a pumpkin), and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil (or to taste- I didn’t add any)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon.

Combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

It saves nicely in tupperware for lunch the next day if you dress it lightly.

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