Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ode to Winter Squash

It's not that I'm obsessed, but I currently have 10 varieties sitting in my living room...
Kabocha Squash pound cake from Love, Eric.

International Climate Action Day! In honor of the planet, I've decided to dedicate today's post to the quintessential seasonal vegetables of the dark and gloomy late fall/winter months - when all you want is a plump and juicy tomato shipped from the south. Yes, those delicious, slightly sweet, creamy-fleshed winter squash.

Oh, winter squash, how you brighten my day.
You tantalize my taste buds in every way.
Baked, roasted; diced or puree,
Orange, striped, or bluish-gray,
No matter what, I have to say:
Because of you, though it sounds cliche,
In the depth of winter, I feel OK.

So I like to rhyme. Winter squash are probably my favorite thing about this time of year. I don't care for the constant wet drizzle from October through May in Seattle nor the temperatures dropping daily. That warm, sweet, beta-carotene-filled meat easily lifts my spirits.

I'm usually pretty boring about cooking up my squashes - just douse them in a little olive oil and salt and stick them in the oven until tender and lightly browned. But, occasionally I'll go a bit nutty. Below is my favorite recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto, and I've included some links to other squashirific recipes.
  • 2 cups Butternut Squash, cut into small square cubes about 1/2 x 1/2 in.
  • 1 cup Grated Butternut Squash (both butternuts can be substituted with red kuri, acorn, or other similar squashes)
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Crushed Garlic
  • 1 Tbs. Minced Onion
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 5 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt and maybe a pinch more depending on your taste

  1. Toss cubed squash w/ 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (optional)
  2. Roast at 425 F for about 25 minutes, until edges lightly browned.
  3. Sprinkle this over the finished risotto.
  4. Over low heat, warm a deep sided sauté pan, turn heat up to medium and add 2 Tbs. oil.
  5. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic and 1 Tbs. minced onion, sauté until garlic and onion become fragrant. Add 1 cup shredded squash.
  6. Sauté on medium to medium low until a nice caramel color starts to develop on the squash (about 10 min.).
  7. Add risotto, sauté until rice is coated with butter, and shredded squash. Stirring frequently add 1/3 of the stock.
  8. As the rice absorbs the stock add more, repeat until rice is done (this will take about 35 minutes).
  9. Rice should still have slight firmness (not mushy) and be creamy.
  10. As the squash cooks with the rice it will break up and incorporate into the creamy risotto.
  11. Risotto is forgiving. do not worry if you need a little more stock, and season to your liking.

Other Recipes (keep in mind that many squashes are interchangeable in baking):

Spiced Winter Squash Cake - Best of Bloodroot Vol. II

My favorites: oven-roasted delicata squash; spaghetti squash with home-made tomato sauce.

Enjoy a squash-full winter!

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