Sunday, September 2, 2007

Farmer's Market: Butternut Squash!

This week at the Farmer's Market I picked up a fresh, locally grown butternut squash. Perhaps you have seen them in the grocery store: large, hard, shaped rather like a giant pear, with a thick tan skin. When you slice it open, the flesh is orange. I happen to LOVE butternut squash! They are a fall vegetable, so watch for them at your store or produce stand, and they are very good for you! If you have never tried it, I offer you 2 recipes for success. Let me preface the recipes by saying, if you have a DH, ask him to halve, peel, and cube the squash for you. It is sort of hellish. I hate doing it. If you have to do it yourself, try poking it with a fork and microwaving it for 8 minutes first to soften it up a bit, or do as I did and just split it in half, seed it, put it cut side down on a pan sprayed with olive oil, and bake it at 375 for about 20 minutes. Then cube it (1" cubes).

Yesterday I made some delicious butternut squash soup. It is thick, rich, and creamy.
Pour about 2T olive oil into a soup pot over medium high and warm it up. Throw in the squash in 1" chunks (1.5 pounds or one mediumish squash) and one onion in large dice. Stir it every so often and cook for 7-8 minutes until golden brown and getting soft. Reduce the heat to low and add 1T butter, a pinch of sugar, 3 sliced garlic cloves. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring once in awhile, until it is a spotty caramel color. Add 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Saute for 30 seconds. Add 3 c. chicken broth, turn to medium-high, and simmer on low, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Put in the blender (in 2 batches) and puree 30-60 seconds. Return to the soup pan. Add 1 1/2 c. of fat-free half and half (you can use evaporated skim milk, or whole milk, or even 2% milk if you prefer). Salt and pepper to taste, heat through. YUMMY.

If soup is not your fancy, here is my very favorite way to enjoy butternut squash:
Take those 1" cubes and steam them until they are soft. (Just put them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and poke them every so often to see when they are soft. Or microwave them in a covered glass dish with a bit of water until soft. When I say soft, I don't mean mush. I mean a tender cube that holds it shape). Take the hot, tender cubes and put them on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil. Grate a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the cubes... don't go overboard. (I have to say, the very best cheese for this dish is Smoked Cheddar, but any cheddar will do). In a baggie, crush up a few lowfat Ritz crackers and add about 1 tsp melted butter to that. Sprinkle it over the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and top is crisp... maybe 8-10 minutes or so. This makes a fantastic lunch or light dinner and it is not so bad on the fat grams if that is all you're having, or with a salad on the side. I LOVE the stuff. Enjoy!


Chubby Chick said...

Mmmm... these recipes sound SO yummy! I love any kind of squash... but I've never really known what to do with Butternut Squash. Thanks for the recipes! I will definitely have to try them.

Tammy said...

This recipe for the soup looks great...I will be making it this week. Thank you...I'm loving your recipes!