Have you eaten squash this autumn? If not, it’s time to start now. Many are intimidated by these tough skinned vegetables that come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes and are not quite sure what to do with them. So, I’m going to demystify a few of them for you by listing some easy ways to cook them. I can’t think of any other vegetable that is so versatile. You can prepare anything from an appetizer to a main course to dessert with squash. All you really need is a good knife to hack through one and a bit of time to roast them. Squash will keep well for months when stored in a cool place. If you have more squash than you need for a particular recipe, you can freeze the rest for later use. There are so many types of squash available but the main ones I like to cook with are pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn and spaghetti squash. Which brings me to a recent cooking experience.
This week I had the opportunity to take part of my first collective kitchen activity held at a local women’s centre. A collective kitchen is a community-based activity which consists of a group of individuals collaborating in the cooking of several dishes which they will either sit down and enjoy together or take home to share with their families. The key ingredient this week was, of course, squash! A group of about 10 women sat down and decided upon a menu which included an appetizer, soup, 2 main courses and dessert using butternut squash, pumpkin, acorn squash and spaghetti squash. Not surprisingly, there was a long list in the dessert column to choose from! Everything we cooked was amazing but the star of the meal, in my opinion, was the butternut squash brochettes. A simple appetizer served with a spicy yoghourt dipping sauce. I was blown away by the surprising flavors of this dish; lemony with a hint of cumin and spiciness. This recipe that I’m sharing with you today came from a great cookbook I received on this day called Complètement Courges (Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2013). This French language cookbook contains a wonderful selection of simple recipes from appetizers to dessert. The brochette recipe originally calls for pattypan squash but since we didn’t have any we substituted butternut squash and we were all thrilled with the result.
Before I share this recipe, I’d like to list some of my favorite ways to cook with squash:
- Cream of butternut squash and leak soup: Peel the squash (I use a vegetable peeler), remove the seeds with a spoon and cut into cubes. You can either roast the squash on a greased baking pan until tender (about 20-25 minutes) or cook it directly in your soup. In a large saucepan, sauté 3 or 4 leeks in olive oil until softened. If not roasting, add the cubed squash, salt and pepper. Add broth to cover, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. If using oven roasted squash, add at this point. Add salt and pepper to taste. Purée with an immersion blender. This soup is also great flavored with ginger.
- Baked squash chips or fries: peel squash and remove seeds. Slice into thin rounds for chips or cut into wedges for fries. Place on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Coat squash pieces with olive oil, salt lightly and bake in a 350°F oven until crisp, about 25 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Butternut Squash, Kale and Bacon Mac’n’Cheese: which I posted this summer ’cause I couldn’t wait to try it. Now is the time to make it!
- Acorn squash stuffed with pasta with tomato sauce and sausage: To serve 4, cut 2 acorn squash in half, remove seeds and bake face down on a greased baking sheet in a 350°F oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile sauté 1 lb sausage, casing removed, until it is no longer pink. Add to your favorite tomato sauce (about 2 cups). Cook 250g of pasta (short pasta such as penne, rigatoni or fusilli is best). Stir sausage/sauce mixture with the pasta. Fill each acorn sausage half with the pasta, top with grated mozzarella cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbling.
- Acorn squash chips: prepare as butternut squash chips.
- Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies that I previously posted. Our ABSOLUTE favorite way of eating pumpkin.
- Pumpkin soup: prepare as in butternut squash leek soup.
- I don’t have a recipe to share here but pumpkin pie is a must!
- Spaghetti Squash Gratin: Slice squash in 2 lengthwise, remove seeds and place flesh side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile have ready 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly before handling. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash to form spaghetti strands. Stir tomato sauce with spaghetti squash and place in the emptied squash shells, top with grated mozzarella and bake until cheese has melted.
- Asian Spaghetti Squash Noodles: Cook and prep squash as above. In a small bowl combine 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, pinch of garlic powder, 2 sliced green onions, chopped fresh cilantro leaves (as much as you like), salt and pepper. Toss the spaghetti squash with the vinaigrette. This is super served with Asian turkey or pork meatballs.
I could go on forever, but I think you have the idea. What are your favorite squash recipes? I’d love to hear from you! But first, I leave you with my new favorite squash recipe: butternut squash brochettes.
Adapted and translated from Complètement Courges (Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2013)
Makes 6 brochettes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice
For the yoghourt sauce:
- 1 cup lemon yoghourt
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
- 1/2 tsp. sambal oelek chili paste (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add squash cubes and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin, chili powder and salt. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Transfer to a plate.
Skewer the squash onto 6 skewers and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on top rack of the oven.
Meanwhile, to prepare the yoghourt sauce, place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.
Remove the brochettes from the oven and serve immediately with the yoghourt sauce.