Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Butternut Squash: 4 Fall Vegetarian Recipes

Fall foods are my favorite. They're often warm, rich, recipes using local vegetarian ingredients. Below are four fantastic looking recipes using butternut squash as the main ingredient. I will definitely be trying these out over the next couple of months.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Lasagne

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash (cut into about 1/2-inch cubes)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp butter
1 tsp flour
1/3 cup 1% milk (preferably organic)
1 oz (about 2 Tbsp) soft goat cheese
1/4 cup 1% whipped cottage cheese
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1 no-boil lasagna noodle, cut into thirds (widthwise)
2 Tbsp shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the cubed butternut squash with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay in an even layer on a baking sheet and cook, turning halfway through, until soft and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 350°F.

Lightly grease an individual baking dish.

Heat butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 30 seconds. Add in the milk and cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in soft goat cheese until fully melted. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in a pinch of ground nutmeg.

In a small bowl, season cottage cheese to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in a pinch of ground nutmeg.
Spoon about 1 Tbsp of the goat cheese sauce into the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with 1 piece of noodle. Spread half of the cottage cheese over the noodle.

Evenly scatter half of the roasted butternut squash over the cottage cheese and top with about 2 Tbsp of the goat cheese sauce.

Repeat the layers, starting with a second noodle piece followed by the remaining cottage cheese, remaining butternut squash, another 2 Tbsp goat cheese sauce, and ending with the final piece of noodle. Top with the remaining goat cheese sauce and shredded mozzarella.

Bake at 350°F until cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before eating.

Butternut squash vegetarian chili

1 medium red onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped (or equivalent jarred roasted red peppers)
1 small butternut squash (less than 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground sea salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2+ tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobo* (start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more to taste, I thought mine was just right with 1 tablespoon)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid**
4 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans, rinsed and drained
2 cups OR one 14 oz. can vegetable broth
2 Avocados from Mexico, diced
cilantro (optional, for garnish)
3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips***

In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, bell pepper, butternut squash, garlic) in one to two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.

Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste test for spice level and add more chipotle if desired.

By the time your chili is done, the butternut squash should be nice and tender and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love.

Make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long. Heat a small pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the tortilla slices. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. 

Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.
Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado. I added a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). You might want to serve this along with some chipotle hot sauce (Tobasco makes one) for the spice addicts like myself.

Serves 3 to 4. This chili is very hearty, but feel free to add another can of tomatoes or more vegetable broth if you want to thin it out a bit. Double the recipe for a crowd.
*Chipotle in adobo sauce is usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store. I never need a whole can at once, so I use what I need and then transfer the rest to a small freezer bag, pressing it flat so that I can pull off as much as I need later.
**Find BPA-free cans of diced tomatoes if possible.
***Look for corn tortillas that contain minimally processed ingredients. There should only be about 5 ingredients listed, and wheat shouldn’t be one of them.

Butternut Squash Pizza with Crispy Sage

Ingredients (Yield = one 12-inch pizza)
1 small butternut squash (about a pound, but you will likely have leftover squash)
olive oil
kosher salt
2 cloves garlic
fresh ricotta cheese
a few sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
10-15 sage leaves
canola oil for frying
Pre-made or Homemade pizza dough

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove the skin: Slice the top of the squash about 1/2-inch under the stem to create a flat edge. Repeat with the other end. Cut crosswise through the squash just above the bulb — cutting the squash into two pieces makes the peeling process easier. Note: I made only one pizza, so I only peeled the longer portion (the non bulb portion) of the butternut squash. Stand the squash (whichever piece you want to peel first) upright and, being careful not to slice off your fingers, run your knife down the sides of the squash removing the peel along the way. Repeat with bulb portion if desired. After peeling the bulb portion, cut it in half, scoop out seeds and discard. Cut the peeled squash crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. I used a mandoline, which saves time and creates uniform pieces, but using a knife works just fine, too.

2. Place the slices of squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with kosher salt to taste, toss to coat, redistribute onto sheet in one layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender.

3. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the garlic and add it to about 1/4 cup of olive oil. After rolling out a pizza round and placing it on a prepared baking sheet (see recipe above), brush dough with the garlic olive oil. (I spooned some of the oil into the center of the dough and then, using the back of my spoon, spread it over the dough to coat evenly.) Spread a thin layer of fresh ricotta over the garlic oil. Sprinkle with fresh thyme to taste. Top with baked squash slices. Top with grated Parmigiano. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, fry the sage. The book recipe does not give detailed instructions for this step, and after a few burnt batches of leaves, I turned to the internet for some advice. The sage leaves should take no longer than 5 seconds in hot oil to crisp up. I didn’t use a thermometer or a deep fryer, so it was a trial and error process, but I found that frying the leaves one at a time in a small sauté pan filled with a layer of canola oil worked well ultimately. I had to take the pan off the heat every so often, but once I got the hang of it, it was a simple process and well worth the effort — the crispy sage adds a really nice flavor.

5. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the crispy sage. Yum!

Fall Recipe- twice baked butternut squash

6 butternut squash (about 9 pounds total)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon nonfat sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika
6 fresh chives, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Heat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in center. Halve squash lengthwise, and remove seeds and fibers. Sprinkle squash halves with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fill a roasting pan with 1/4 inch water. Place squash in pan. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 35 to 45 minutes. 

Remove from oven, transfer squash to a cool surface, and let cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Use a spoon to scoop baked flesh out of each half into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch border around six of the halves so they will keep their shape. To the bowl, add sour cream, paprika, chives, and remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix with a handheld electric mixer or potato masher until smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. 

Fill six squash halves with mixture (discard remaining six empty halves). Sprinkle tops with toasted breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown and warm throughout, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

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