Tag Archives: Butternut squash

Smoked Paprika Roasted Squash

2 platters 1We’re all familiar with the concept that small changes can add up to big differences. The internet abounds with lists that I seem powerless to resist clicking on. You know the ones I mean; 7 Small Changes That Will Make a Big Difference in Your Life, 10 Small Changes Which Make a Big Difference11 Small Lifestyle Changes That Can Make A Big Difference In Your Health & Happiness.

Last week I made a small change of my own, which, by the way, I have yet to see on any of these lists. We eat butternut squash at least once a week in our house. I always prepare it the same way. I cut it into sticks like french fries, drizzle on olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and  roast it at 400°F for 45 minutes.

As I peeled the squash a crazy thought flitted through my brain. What if I changed the way I usually cut the squash?  Wild, I know! I went rogue and cut thin circles.slicing squashThose lists always advise you to take it slow and not to make too many changes at once, so I kept it consistent and mixed the squash with my usual combo of olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Smoked paprika, if you’ve never used it, is fantastic. I won’t go so far as to say it’s life changing, but it is pretty damn amazing. It makes everything taste better. I put that shit on everything.salt pepper and paprikamixing bowl and baking sheet2 baking sheetsI was actually surprised at how different the squash turned out from when I cut it into fries. The slices baked up more tender on the inside and crisper on the exterior. My squash fries never got golden brown like this. They were either limp and pale after 45 minutes or if I left them in longer, they burned. These circles were consistently golden brown with an outstanding texture.dipping in chipotle mayoI’m not a scientist, but I think the reason for this difference is that the amount of surface area that was exposed to the heat of the oven was greater when the squash was cut into circles, vs. the fry shape, so the squash had better chance to release all its moisture before crisping up.

If you’re serving this to company, scatter a few pomegranate seeds on top and whip up a dip. Mix one small chipotle chile in adobo sauce (seeded and chopped fine) into 1/2 a cup of regular or light mayo. (Don’t use fat free).

Here’s a tip for what to do with the remainder of the chiles in the can. Take a few minutes to seed them all. Puree the seeded chiles in the food processor and then spread the paste out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Put it in the freezer until firm and then break it up into large pieces and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It will keep for months. Just break a small piece off whenever you need it. It defrosts very quickly. it’s great on chicken, fish and in rice.platter on white table

Click here to print recipe for Smoked Paprika Roasted Squash.

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad

in white round bowlHope life is treating you well this week. We are in full-on purge mode around here. We’re planning to downsize shortly. It’s amazing the amount of junk you can accumulate in 23 years.  Getting rid of stuff is not my husband’s forte. He still has all his high school essays. (He got an A+ in his Family Studies paper on “The cost of setting up a home for newlyweds” – it was the 70’s!) He kept all the cards from our wedding. We have been married for over 30 years. He also kept every birthday and father’s day card from me and the kids.

I wasn’t hopeful that he would be able to dispose of very much. But once he began shredding, he couldn’t stop. And then he discovered Kijiji. Things have been flying out of here at an alarming rate. It has become quite cathartic for him. I’m afraid that if I stay still for too long he might put me up for sale on Kijiji. I can just imagine the ad:

“Pre-owned, but very well-maintained wife for sale. All parts original. A little slow to start up in the morning, but motor begins purring after an extra-hot latte.” Will accept any reasonable offers.”

This salad was inspired by a forgotten bag of Israeli couscous I discovered sitting at the back of my pantry in a cleaning spree. The addition of roasted butternut squash is the clever idea of Daniel Gritzer over at seriouseats.com. Start by toasting the uncooked Israeli couscous in a bit of olive oil.Toasting cous cousAdd boiling water and salt and cook couscous.adding boiling waterI recently learned that squash is an excellent source of potassium. Apparently acorn squash is the champion, but butternut is a close second, and I find it much easier to peel. All those ridges in acorn squash scare me. If you need a primer on peeling and cutting butternut, check out the video in this post.chopping squash Toss squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some smoked paprika too, because everything is better with smoked paprika.ready for roastingA jolt of freshness is provided by lots of green (scallions, mint and parsley) and yellow (lemon).lemon and herbsready to assemble

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Israeli Couscous Salad.

in white oval bowl

 

Pan Fried Butternut Squash and Apple Salad

black-round-serving-platter-2Guys, I have big news! Perhaps not internet breaking caliber news, but still, kind of exciting. Did you know you could make a vinaigrette with melted browned butter instead of oil? Kind of mind blowing, I know!

There are no shortage of butternut squash and apple salad recipes out there. A quick Google search unearthed 613,000 of them! What makes this one special is the dressing. It’s a brown butter and apple cider vinaigrette and it’s bonkers awesome.

Regular readers of this blog know my love for brown butter. I have used it in seven different desserts. But it had never occured to me to use it as the fat in salad dressing. I have to give credit for this genius idea to Toronto chef Haan Palcu Chang.

If you have never had brown butter before, you are in for a treat. It adds a layer of toasty, nutty deliciousness to anything it touches. Making it couldn’t be simpler. Butter is composed of butterfat, milk protein and water. When you brown butter, you are essentially toasting the milk protein. As you heat the butter, and it begins to bubble and sputter away, the water evaporates and the hot butterfat begins to cook the milk solids, turning them from creamy yellow to a splendid speckled brown colour and your whole kitchen smells like toasted hazelnuts.

The squash is thinly sliced and pan fried until is is almost charred. A cast iron skillet is perfect for this, but a non-stick skillet will also do the job.charring-in-cast-iron-panYou can cook the squash ahead of time and warm it in the oven just before assembling the salad. A tart apple like Granny Smith is a wonderful contrast to the sweet squash. Brown the butter just before you are ready to serve the salad. If you make it ahead of time the butter will start to solidify.black-round-serving-platterWhile the vibrant orange hue of butternut squash is gorgeous on its own, adding a crunchy topping of toasted hazelnuts, a verdant shower of mint and green onions and ruby red jewel-like pomegranate seeds turn this salad into a pretty stunning masterpiece.dinner-for-2

Click here to print recipe for Pan-Fried-Butternut-Squash-and-Apple-Salad.

on-white-plate

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup with Coconut Bacon

bowl-72-dpiIf the combination of butternut squash and tomato sounds a bit strange, you’re not alone. It seemed like an odd pairing to me as well, when I read about it on bonappetit.com. But when I considered the elements more carefully, it made perfect sense. Butternut squash on it’s own makes quite a sweet soup, which I always enjoy for the first few spoonfuls,. But then it becomes cloying and not terribly nuanced. It always reminds me of baby food. But give the squash a shot of acid, in the form of a tomato and we’re talking a whole different ballgame of flavour. Rich and complex, each spoonful offers a fresh perspective.

The most difficult part of making this soup is cutting the butternut squash in half. Even when I use my 12 inch chef’s blade, my knife always gets stuck halfway through the squash. Then I lift the whole thing in the air and fling it back down on the cutting board, praying that the force will split the squash and I will escape unbloodied. It usually works.

Once you get the squash cut in half, scoop out the seeds, give it a slick of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place each half facedown on a parchment lined baking sheet. Tuck a peeled clove of garlic under each half and roast in a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until soft.

Now comes the fun part. No need to scoop the flesh out of the shell. It just peels right off in one piece. It reminded me of when I was little and I’d watch my mom peel apples with a paring knife. She’d get all the peel off in one long coil. I thought she was magic! peeling-the-skin-off-is-funOnce the squash is cooked, sauté some onions, jalapeño and ginger until soft. Add the squash, canned tomatoes and some liquid (water, chicken or vegetable broth) and let the whole lot simmer for about 20 minutes. An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing.dicing-onionsOk, let’s get to the coconut bacon! Which is’t really bacon at all, just coconut flakes tarted up with some liquid smoke, tamari sauce, maple syrup and brown sugar. The whole lot gets baked until brown and crispy.coconut-bacon-contains-no-actual-baconCoconut bacon is the genius idea of Molly over at mynameisyeh. It is crunchy, a little bit smoky, salty and sweet. It is the perfect garnish for this soup and any leftover is fantastic in salad. I must admit , I’m a little bit addicted to it. soup-for-3f

Click here to print recipe for Butternut-Squash-Tomato-Soup-with-Coconut-Bacon.