What Can Mama D Do With Butternut Squash?

Butternut Squash is delicious, nutritious, and versatile. It’s in its heyday in fall and winter, so the time for Butternut Squash adventures is now. I must confess, I’m fairly new to the winter squash scene. It’s only been in Mama D’s Kitchen for about 5 years (except for Spaghetti Squash which has been in the kitchen for decades). It’s time to make up for lost time.

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I’ve been using this oddly (?) shaped squash quite often and it always surprises me with its adaptability. It also has certain affinities with other foods. It stands up to all kinds of onions. From leeks to shallots and every type in between, squash takes them on and still keeps its identity.  Bacon seems to have been put on earth, for among other things to compliment squash. Something in the smokiness of the bacon goes well with the sweet earthiness of the squash. Besides that, “ Mama D do love her bacon”.

Many people are fond of the sweet notes of squash and expand on them. Personally, I like to keep the sugar sweetness in dessert and let the squash display its innate sweetness in the main part of the meal.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Mama D’s Butternut Squash & Apple Soup. This recipe was born in a cooking class I took several years ago. It’s gotten some Mama D lovin’ and has become what I like to call ” Autumn in a Bowl.”

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
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Autumn in bowl.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Print Recipe
Autumn in bowl.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in large soup pot until crisp. Remove the bacon drain on paper towels. Pour all the drippings into a heat proof container. Return 2 tablespoons of the drippings to the soup pot and add the onion. Sweat for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
  2. Raise the heat to medium high and add the squash and apples. Cook, stirring occasionally until everything is slightly browned. Add the apple juice and stir to de-glaze the pan. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, add the sage and cook, covered 30 minutes or until the squash is soft. remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender.
  3. While soup is simmering, heat a tablespoon of the bacon drippings in a small fry pan. Add the shallots and cook until carmelized, 15 minutes or so. Set aside for garnishing the soup.
  4. Return the pot of soup to the stove and simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Add the cream and heat gently until everything is steamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. If soup is too thick, add a little more stock or cider. If Soup is too thin, add 2-3 tablespoons of potato flakes. Heat until any additions come up to temperature.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each bowl with some of the bacon and shallots and sprinkle with the pepitas.
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Butternut Squash makes a wonderful side dish. Roasting seems to bring out the nutty flavor and provides enough of a reason to coat it ever so lightly in olive oil. While olive oil is the healthier alternative, I’ve come up with a recipe that uses bacon drippings as the lubricant (so to speak). It also repeats some of the same flavors found in the above soup. What can possibly be wrong with bacon, shallots and sage? Nothing, I say!!

 

Butternut Squash Smash with Bacon and Shallots
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A hearty side dish that can hold its own with meat or fowl.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Butternut Squash Smash with Bacon and Shallots
Print Recipe
A hearty side dish that can hold its own with meat or fowl.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven heats, cook the bacon in a large skillet until brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Remove drippings from the pan and reserve 2 tablespoons. The rest can be discarded. Keep the skillet, as is, to use later.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Lay the thyme and sage on the baking sheet to make an aromatic bed for the squash. Lightly brush the cut edges of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and lay cut side down on top of the herbs. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the squash and bake for 15 minutes more or so.it should be quite soft.
  3. Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes or until it can be handled, Make sure to save the herbs. Scoop the squash from the skin and place in a large bowl. Throw the skin away. Mash the squash until "smooth-ish."
  4. Heat the remaining bacon drippings and the butter in the reserved skillet. When it is hot, add the shallots and cook for a few minutes until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the mashed squash and the warm half & half to the skillet. Stir to combine (if things seem too thick add a little more half & half).
  5. Crumble the herbs, (leave the stems out of it) and add to the pan. Stir all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon into the mixture. Heat gently until everything is hot and happy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the remaining bacon. Serve with pride.
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This is a wonderful accompaniment to pork, be it chops, tenderloin or roast. It also compliments any poultry dish you may be serving.

I love visiting other food blog sites. One of my favorites is Proud Italian Cook.  Marie has lots of wonderful recipes. I took some inspiration from her Polenta and Squash dish and came up with Chicken and Squash Risotto. It started with Butternut Squash roasted with leeks and garlic.DIGITAL CAMERA

I made risotto using red onions, chicken stock and some leftover roast chicken. The squash and leek mixture joined in the fun.

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The result was a comfort food that satisfied the need for the creamy, slightly chewy and savory flavor that is risotto.

Butternut Squash and Chicken Risotto
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This recipe uses a roasted squash, leek, and garlic mixture. You will have enough for this recipe and at least another of your choosing. This will also freeze well if you want to share your squash love at a later time.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Butternut Squash and Chicken Risotto
Print Recipe
This recipe uses a roasted squash, leek, and garlic mixture. You will have enough for this recipe and at least another of your choosing. This will also freeze well if you want to share your squash love at a later time.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Combine the squash, leeks, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl.Spread the mixture on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring half way though. The squash should be soft and lightly browned. Set aside.
  2. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the red onion and cook stirring occasionally until translucent. Add the rice, tossing to coat well. Cook the rice until it is becoming translucent about 7-10 minutes. Add the white wine to the pan and continue to cook until it has evaporated (this will also de-glaze the pan).
  3. Using a ladle, add approximately 1/2 cup of the hot stock to the pan. Cook and stir until the stock has been absorbed into the rice. Continue to add stock, stirring and cooking until each addition is absorbed. This is probably a good time to pour a glass of wine, it's going to take awhile. You are looking for rice with a creamy texture but grains with a little bite.
  4. Add the chicken and squash to the pan. Add more stock as needed to keep the creamy texture of the rice. Heat until everything is steaming. Add about half of the cheese and stir until it melts. Taste the dish and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve in shallow bowls. Pass the rest of the cheese at the table.
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So the answer to the question in the title is, “A lot”. These recipes just scratch the surface of Butternut Squash. There are lots of other squash varieties out there as well and without too much adjustment, they can be substituted in any of these recipes. If you haven’t cooked these odd-shaped, nutrient dense vegetables, give it a try. There’s plenty of squash love to go around.

Happy New Year, Mama D

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