It’s All About the Butternut, Baby
One of the best things I’ve eaten in an airport was a roasted butternut and feta sandwich in Melbourne. Simple, earthy and salty all at the same time. We’re no strangers to the virtues of butternut squash around here, and in fact, my grinchiness about pumpkin this year has sent me straight into the arms of butternut squash. Roasted, it makes great soup, salad, risotto, pasta, even pizza sauce. Even with a good, sharp peeler, it may feel like prepping a butternut is taking your life into your own hands, but it’s worth the effort.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH FROM OTTOLENGHI & TAMIMI’S JERUSALEM. Not only is this butternut dish delicious, it’s dead simple. Crank up the oven to 475 and 30-40 minutes later you have a pile of tender, intensely flavored butternut squash and onions….which you then arrange on a platter, dress with a little tahini dressing and sprinkle on some za’atar and toasted pinenuts. That’s it.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT, RED ONION & FETA PIZZA. Using the flavors from the Ottolenghi dish as a starting point, you can roast and puree the butternut and use it as a sauce, topping it with a bit of grated mozzarella, red onion and feta. Sprinkle it with a little za’atar once it’s out of the oven.
GRILLED BUTTERNUT & RADICCHIO PIZZA. I love a pizza that brings its own salad. This version from the First Mess tops the pie with a radicchio and Italian parsley slaw whose bitterness complements the sweetness of the squash. The slaw is also great on it’s own with a little Belgian endive added.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH, QUINOA & DRIED CRANBERRIES. If you need any proof that it’s possible to eat fabulously as a vegan, this salad confirms it. With a traditional mix of fall flavors, including a maple vinaigrette, this hearty salad with the grain of the moment makes a great lunch or side for pork tenderloin or chicken.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND COUSCOUS SALAD WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND SAGE. In a very similar vein, this salad from Chef Jessica Christensen uses cranberry and orange juices along with a dash of sherry vinegar to hydrate the couscous. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like a fantastic way to bring some flavor to what can be kind of a blah grain.
Of course, with butternut, the first thing most people think of is soup. While a simple butternut soup can warm your bones, why not turn up the heat just a bit with a little Thai red curry paste? Mae Ploy is our preferred brand, but it does pack a punch. Thai Kitchen-brand paste does typically seem a bit more mild, so if you love a good Thai curry, but prefer it on the milder side, Thai Kitchen may be the one for you.
- 1 butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs)
- 2 t. canola oil
- 2 t. Thai red curry paste (Mae Ploy preferred)
- 1 c. light coconut milk
- 1½ c. chicken broth
- Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Seeds
- ½ t. New Mexican chile powder
- ½ t. cinnamon
- ½ t. sugar
- big pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- Halve the squash and reserve the seeds. Put the squash cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes until a fork or knife easily slides into the flesh.
- To roast the seeds, line a baking sheet with parchment. Rinse away any squash flesh and lay the seeds on a paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the chile powder, cinnamon and sugar. While the seeds are still damp, but not wet, toss them in the spice mixture until evenly coated. Put the seeds on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 5-7 minutes, turning them over once, part way through.
- Heat a 5 qt. sauce pan over medium heat. Swirl the canola oil around the pan and curry paste, frying for 1-2 minutes until the curry paste is fragrant. Add the roasted squash, coconut milk and chicken broth, breaking down the squash with the back of a spoon. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. In batches, pour the squash mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Be careful not to overfill the blender, hot soup will expand.
- Top each serving with roasted seeds & enjoy.