The bulbous butternut squash is not the most attractive vegetable in the produce section, but much like that girl in high school who didn't look like much but had a great personality, it's what's inside the squash that is so amazing.
Butternut squash is delicious in so many ways; roasted, tossed with pasta and Italian sausage, pureed into soup, and tossed with vegetables in a salad with balsamic vinegar. There really isn't any way to ruin it, which is the best news!
On rainy days like today, butternut squash is a great vegetable to use to turn into dinner, and I have a few ways to try it. First we'll roast it at a high temperature in the oven for about 20 minutes, until it is tender. Roasting brings the sweetness of the squash to the forefront, and gives it a great smoky quality.
Arrange the squash on a baking pan, with a silicone baking liner. Drizzle with salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can add spice if you would like--I used about 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage leaves for flavor, but you can use cumin, chili powder, curry powder, thyme, any number of flavors for this dish.
Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the squash shows no resistance when the sharp tip of a knife is inserted into the squash. Remove from the oven; at this point, the squash can be served as a side dish (how easy is that?) or we can turn it into dinner. I decided to make it into soup, on a day like today, soup is good food.
Place the squash into a saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
Puree with an immersion blender, adding more broth if the soup is too thick. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream, if you want this to be luxurious---I don't know about you, but when the weather is nasty, I will take all the comfort I can get!
Taste for seasoning, if you want a little zing, instead of adding ground pepper opt for Hot Sauce--I this case I used Franks (of Buffalo Chicken Wing fame) you can use Tabasco, too.
Serve your soup garnished with croutons, lump crab meat, or crumbled goat cheese.
Other ideas using the roasted butternut squash:
- cook 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, drain off the fat, add squash and 1/2 cup chicken broth or heavy cream to the sausage in the skillet, and toss the sausage and squash with 1 pound of Penne, cooked al dente. Garnish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
- Using your favorite risotto recipe, add 1 1/2 cups of roasted butternut squash when you add the rice to the pan. Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar.
Makes about 4 cups
4 cups peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon your favorite flavoring, optional (I used sage leaves)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Arrange the squash on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or a silicone baking liner. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and flavoring. Roast the squash for 20 minutes, until tender.