Butternut Squash

October 24, 2008

Hi everyone,

This week sees the return of Butternut Squash  which can be used to make all kinds of wonderful soups, gratins and stews. It’s also great served on its own (roasted, boiled, steamed or fried)  then dressed  with a little Sea Salt, Olive Oil and the tiniest dash of Balsamic Vinegar. Flavourwise, it’s earthy and quite sweet (which makes it a great weaning food for babies) and goes very well with Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Potatoes, Chiles, Maple Syrup, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Parsley, Sage and Orange.
Most recipes call for just the flesh and getting the skin off does look daunting but it’s not really. I find the best way is to quarter it first and then peel. After that, take out the seeds and stringy bits and cut the flesh as required. And what a lot of people don’t know is if you roast your Butternut the skin ends up soft enough to eat which makes things even easier.
One of the simplest ways to cook Butternut comes from a friend who reckons she got the recipe in New Zealand.You basically cut your Butternut in half and stick in the oven so it really couldn’t be less labour intensive…..

Sweet roasted Butternut

Clean the skin and cut the Butternut in half, then roast it softside up for 20 minutes. Turn it over and smear the flesh with Butter,  Brown Sugar, a generous pinch of Sea Salt and either a pinch of Cinnamon or Chili. Return to the oven and roast for a further 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your Squash or until the flash has caramelised.
This is fantastic served with Lamb, Pork or some baked Feta Cheese with a cous cous salad dressed with Olive Oil, toasted Pinenuts and plenty of chopped Rocket or Flatleaf Parsley.

I hear it’s going to turn cold this weekend so soup is definitely going to be on the menu in our house. This week’s recipe is for one with Butternut, Parmesan and Thyme and it’s incredibly tasty, filling and guaranteed to warm……………

Butternut Soup with Parmesan and Thyme (for 2)

You’ll need:
500gr Peeled Butternut
60ml Olive Oil
1 small Onion chopped
4 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme leaves or 1 Teaspoon dried Thyme Leaves
750ml Vegetable Stock (as usual I cheat and use Marigold)
2 Tablespoons Double Cream
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan and some Parmesan Shavings for garnish (make these with your veg peeler)
Sour Cream for garnishing at the end – not absolutely crucial and some regular Cream or Yogurt will also do fine

Heat the Olive Oil in a pot over a lowish heat then very gently sweat the Butternut for about 5 minutes before adding  the Onion, Garlic and Thyme. Continue cooking gently for another 10 minutes. Turn up the heat a little and add the vegetable stock  in 3 stages stirring well between each addition. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer, season with Salt and Pepper then cover and continue cooking for a further 25 minutes.
To finish the soup off add 2 Tablespoons of double Cream and 3 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Check and correct the seasoning if necessary then cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending until smooth adding a little more stock if necessary to get the consistency you want.
Before serving reheat and garnish with a drizzle of Sour Cream if you have it and some Parmesan Shavings.
Don’t forget that soup freezes really well so it’s worth making a double or triple quantity (use Spuds and/or Carrots to make up any shortfall on the Butternut front). Freeze in individual portions and then you’ll be able to bring it to work  where you’ll go straight to the top of the recession chic charts!

Roasted Butternut Squash is great in salads and this recipe is a meal in itself….

Warm Roasted Butternut Feta and and Cous Cous Salad (for 2)

You’ll need:
300gr of peeled Butternut per person cut into bitesized pieces
Olive Oil
200gr Cous Cous (I like the wholemeal kind as it has a lovely nutty flavour but it’s up to you)
1 small Onion finely chopped
A handful of Parsley (flatleaf if possible) roughly chopped
120gr Feta Cheese
1 Lemon
Balsamic Vinegar
Roasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds if you have them.

Put the Butternut on a roasting tray and with your hands smear about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil on them then roast in a hottish oven (Gas mark 6 or 200 degrees) for about 30 minutes or until the pieces are soft and starting to caramelise. If you’d like a bit of a kick you can add a little finely chopped dried Chili to the Butternut before roasting.
While the Butternut is roasting prepare the Cous Cous. Most recipes suggest steaming Cous Cous or sitting it boiling water but I learnt a technique from a chef in Barcelona which I reckon works better than anything. Basically you roast the grains on a dry pan as you would seeds and when they start to turn golden brown you turn down the heat, add hot water and stir like mad until the grains have softened and the water is absorbed. After that, turn off the heat and continue stirring so the grains don’t all clump together adding a little Olive Oil. As the Cous Cous starts to cool down you can stir it less and get on with preparing the rest of your ingredients. This recipe calls for 200gr Cous Cous which is about 1 1/4 cups and I’d reckon on adding about 2 cups of water but it’s not an exact science. If you find that the water has evaporated before the grains are cooked add a little more and if you find there’s still water in the pan and the grains are cooked turn up the heat and and stir everything so the excess water evaporates as quickly as possible.
When your Cous Cous is cooked add the Onion, freshly roasted Butternut, crumbled Feta Cheese and Parsley.
To make the dressing, mix 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil with the juice of half a Lemon and a dash of Balsamic Vinegar. Add this to the salad and then adjust (you may find it needs more Balsamic) as needed. Top with some Pumpkin seeds or roasted Sunflower seeds if you have them.

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,


2 Responses to “Butternut Squash”

  1. Paul Donnelly Says:

    I tried the Butternut soup wit Thyme & Parmesan the other day and it was absolutely fantastic!

    Warm and velvety and everything you want from comfort food as the days get shorter.

    Thanks Sarah!


  2. Margaretg Says:

    The butternut and feta salad is great. It is also good without the couscous. Try with goats cheese and a little maple syrup on the squash before you roast it… then served on a bed of rocket or baby chard or spinach….

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: