Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Butternut Squash...A Good Gourd!

Butternut squash is a versatile and tasty fall vegetable. It can be a savory side dish with garlic and thyme or it can be a sweet, cinnamony treat, as well as a creamy soup or braised in stews. Some people are hesitant to cook butternut squash because of the gourd’s tough skin. Here’s a trick to making the butternut squash more user-friendly.
Pierce squash with a knife a few times and place directly on rack in preheated 325 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel with a vegetable peeler, scoop out the seeds, and cube the squash. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and place cubed squash in it. Top squash with 1/4 c. apple or orange juice, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or brown sugar. Bake until squash is tender. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup to serve. Of course, it is easiest to prepare and roast butternut squash while you have another dish baking in the oven. Don’t fuss over the oven temperature: if you are baking something at 350 degrees, throw the squash in there for 10-15 minutes, and it will still peel and cube fine. Also, if you don’t have time to wait around for the squash to cool, handle it with a pot holder.
Here’s another recipe for butternut squash. This one is a savory side dish that pairs nicely with just about any meat.

Butternut Green Bean Saute

1 butternut squash
2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fresh green beans and/or wax beans
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 c. vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste
Partially cook squash as per directions above. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic, being careful not to burn. Add cubed butternut squash, season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Cook 4 minutes stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high, add beans, thyme, and vegetable stock. Stir well, cover and cook until squash and beans are tender and desired doneness, about 5 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste. Add red pepper flakes for a little heat, if desired.

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