February 1, 2012

Chefs get creative with winter squashes

It's easier than you may think to break out of the soup-or-sweet-side-dish rut with the gourds.

By PAULA HAMILTON / McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

squash tips
click image to enlarge

Acorn squash, a dark bluish-green squash, may be the most common winter squash outside California.

Photos by McClatchy Newspapers

squash tips
click image to enlarge

Butternut squash is particularly good in soups, stews and braised dishes.

Additional Photos Below

Washburn tosses peeled, thinly sliced butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes before roasting. The flavorful results add color and creamy richness to all sorts of delicious, gourmet sandwich fare.

And roasted squash sandwiches are among the most popular items on the winter menu at San Francisco's Grand Cafe, says executive chef Alicia Jenish. Jenish marinates thin rounds of delicata squash in a mixture of maple syrup, sherry vinegar, garlic, cayenne and olive oil, then roasts them until the flesh is tender and the edges are crispy. Tucked into baguettes with warm goat cheese, arugula and sage pesto, it's a match made in heaven.

Next week when the veggie box arrives, I know exactly what to make.

SQUASH TIPS

ACORN: This dark bluish-green squash may be the most common winter squash outside California. Most people add maple syrup, honey or brown sugar when they cook this squash.

BUTTERCUP: A round, turban-shaped squash, buttercups have an incredibly creamy, dark-orange flesh and are consistently sweet and flavorful. Bake, steam or simmer them for soups, purees and pies.

BUTTERNUT: These smooth, tan squashes are prized for pies and roasting. Butternut squash have a creamy texture and sweet orange pulp that is particularly good in soups, stews and braised dishes.

DELICATA: Elongated, with tender, pale yellow skin, the delicata squash has very sweet, pale orange flesh and an edible peel. Slice them thinly and roast until tender.

KABOCHA: These squash have lots of seeds and not much meat, but the deep orange-colored flesh is sweet and smooth. Slices can be fried tempura-style, steamed, braised, baked or sauteed.

ROASTING TIPS

ROASTED SQUASH SLICES: Cut winter squash in half. Remove seeds, but leave skin on. Slice ¼- to ½-inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh rosemary (or with pimenton, ground cumin or curry powder). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the edges are brown and crispy and the flesh is soft.

ROASTED ROOTS: Toss cubed winter squash and any combination of winter root vegetables – such as celery root, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and red onions – with olive oil until well coated. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Season to taste. Bake at 400 degrees, turning occasionally with a spatula, until crispy outside and very soft inside, about 45 minutes.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE

Servings: 8

Note: This is Riverdog Farms co-owner Trini Campbell's favorite pie. Use 3 eggs for a softer, more custardy filling, she says.

FLAKY PIE CRUST:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup solid vegetable shortening

3 tablespoons ice water, or more

FILLING:

2 to 3 large eggs

2 cups freshly cooked butternut or buttercup squash, pureed

1½ cups light cream or evaporated milk

½ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

Whipped cream, optional

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening, until the fat is in pea-sized pieces. Drizzle in the ice water, mixing with a fork, until the dough sticks together when pressed. Form into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk 3 large eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the squash, light cream, sugars, spices and salt.

(Continued on page 3)

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Additional Photos

squash tips
click image to enlarge

A turban-shaped squash, buttercup has a creamy, dark orange flesh and is consistently sweet and flavorful.

squash tips
click image to enlarge

Elongated, with tender, pale yellow skin, the delicata squash has very sweet, pale orange flesh and an edible peel.

 


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