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Take a drive through rural P.E.I., and you are likely to come upon displays of pumpkin and squash heaped on wagons, arranged around hay bales and corn stalks and otherwise artfully displayed.
Besides being decorative, these yellow-fleshed vegetables taste good, and are good for you.
Butternut squash are the creamy yellow ones, long and slender with a rounded bulge at the blossom end. They’re easy to peel because of the smooth skin – I use a slingshot peeler – and have a relatively small seed cavity.
Here are a few of the many ways to use butternut squash in your fall meals.
Squash soup is a fall favourite, and comes with many variations. Use local, seasonal tart apples in this soup to provide a counterpoint to the complex mix of curry spices. The original recipe calls for Granny Smith apples, but we have perfectly good tart apples in the Maritimes. I’m using the Cortlands from our own trees.
I suggest omitting or reducing the salt if using salty stock.
Curried Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Reiss, Pam: “Soup: A Kosher Collection”. Whitecap Books, Vancouver, 2004.
½ small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
25 mL (2 tbsp) olive oil
1-2 cloves cloves garlic, crushed (5 mL/1 tsp)
5 mL (1 tsp) medium curry powder
2 mL (½ tsp) ground cumin
1 mL (¼ tsp) ground coriander
1 mL (¼ tsp) ground ginger
1 mL (¼ tsp) ground cinnamon
1 mL (¼ tsp) ground turmeric
0.5 mL (⅛ tsp) ground nutmeg
0.5 mL (⅛ tsp) ground cardamom
1 mL (¼ tsp) black pepper
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
1 medium butternut squash (500 g/1 lb), peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
1 L (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
3-4 medium tart apples (500 g/1 lb), peeled, cored and chopped
Over medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil for 8-10 minutes. The onion will start to brown and caramelize.
Add all of the spices and seasonings and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add the squash and stock, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the soup gently for 2 minutes.
Add the apples and simmer the soup until squash and apples are soft, approximately 10 minutes. (The smaller the cubes of squash, the faster they will soften.)
Purée using a hand blender, blender or food processor and serve.
Makes 4 servings
I have often served oven-roasted squash halves seasoned with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, and ginger. This roasted squash dish has a totally different palette of seasonings! The rice stuffing is different from, but reminds me of, Cinnamon Rice seasoned with cinnamon, pine nuts and currants, which our hostess served for Thanksgiving dinner last weekend.
Choose small to medium butternut squash for this recipe, as each serving consists of a half squash.
Persian Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash
Adapted from Saulsbury, Camilla V.: “200 Best Sheet Pan Meals”. Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2016.
2 butternut squash, halved lengthwise
60 mL (4 tbsp) olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
500 mL (2 cups) cooled cooked brown rice
175 mL (¾ cup) roasted pistachios or almonds, coarsely chopped
125 mL (½ cup) finely chopped green onions
75 mL (⅓ cup) chopped dried cherries
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
3 mL (¾ tsp) ground cumin
Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
Line a 45 by 33 cm (18- by 13-inch) rimmed sheet pan (a half sheet pan) with foil or cooking parchment.
Using a metal spoon, scrape out seeds and membranes from squash halves. Using a sharp knife, score the flesh. Place squash, cut side up, on prepared pan, spacing evenly. Brush cut sides with 30 mL (2 tbsp) oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 35 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and add red pepper alongside squash. Drizzle pepper with 15 mL (1 tbsp) oil. Roast for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine rice, pistachios, green onions, cherries, cinnamon, cumin and the remaining oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove pan from oven and spoon rice mixture into squash cavities. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until squash if fork tender and stuffing is warmed through.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, writes this column for The Guardian every Friday. She can be reached by email at [email protected].