Links: Every recipe I could find for butternut squash
Courtesy Real Time Farms, September 2010
Like any person with a good network and only a few ideas of his own, I asked friends online. Here's a compilation of their suggestions, with links to some of the many recipes that you might make from that starting point.
Winter squash season
Butternut squash starts to show up at farmers markets in the early fall, and it's available long into the winter market season. Butternuts have smooth, thin, pale brown skin that is easily peeled with a vegetable peeler, which makes them easier to prepare than their more rugged companions like Hubbard squash. (Traditionally, it's said the way to open a Hubbard squash is to take an ax to it or throw it down the basement stairs.) Cut the butternut open, scoop out the seeds, and then contemplate which of the many ways you might want to prepare it.
The Gardener's Monthly of 1865 recommends against the use of an ax to cut the Hubbard open, on account of "the danger to the feet." Its recipe for squash pudding would need to be adapted to the modern taste:
Before I close allow me to introduce my squash loving friends to a very simple luxury: a Squash Pudding. To a pint of sifted squash add two thirds of a teacupful of sifted sugar, a teaspoon full of salt, and two soft crackers pounded fine. Scald a quart of milk and pour it boiling on the mixture. Flavor with lemon and nutmeg, or with cinnamon. Bake in a pudding dish in a very hot oven for two hours. Let it cool half an hour before bringing to the table.
Roasting and oven frying
A very simple way to prepare butternut squash is to cut it into pieces and roast it in the oven. Depending on your tastes, this is either the end of the cooking process or only the very start. If you cut it into thin pieces and put it on a baking pan with a bit of oil you end up with squash fries. Dot with butter and a bit of brown sugar, and your roasted squash comes out as a sweet dish.
Roasted plain, the squash makes for a good ingredient in a variety of other dishes to follow. The roasting process reduces the water content of the squash and concentrates the flavors. Squash is tolerant of a wide variety of cooking temperatures and durations, so it's the kind of thing you might throw in the oven when something else more fussy is cooking.
I was hungry enough last night to end up making the simplest recipe that I could think of, ginger squash. This is simple enough to describe, but note that I didn't bother to measure.
Ginger coconut squash
Ingredients Baked butternut squash Butter Binger, grated fresh Lemon juice Brown sugar or honey Dried flaked coconut
Directions Mash the squash. Add a bit of butter. Grate the ginger on top, then mix with a bit of lemon juice, some brown sugar and some dried coconut. I ended up warming this in the microwave and letting it sit for a bit to allow the coconut to absorb some moisture.
As a base for soups
Cooked squash is an excellent base for making a range of soups. You can make creamy soups with milk, sweet soups with apple cider and savory soups with chicken or vegetable stock as a liquid.
Sunshine in a Bowl / Un Rayon de Soleil, from the local food weblog 64 sq ft kitchen. You get the natural sweetness of the butternut squash and the apple cider mixed with the warmth of the cinnamon, the cardamom, the ginger and the all spice. And the color of the soup is just wonderful. The soup should be really velvety and silky to your tongue, so make sure to blend it well.
Peggy Lampman suggests in her recipe for roasted sweet-potato pear soup that butternut squash can substitute for sweet potatoes.
Ann Arbor Farmers Market manager Molly Notarianni inspired my try last year at coconut squash soup, with tomatoes and coconut milk and stock.
In ice cream and pie
Selma Cafe host Lisa Gottlieb wrote in with this recipe for a butternut squash ice cream. Puree like crazy, add honey and/or maple syrup, cream, half and half or whole milk, a couple of egg yolks, and put it in an ice cream maker. For real, it's amazing.
Several people recommended butternut squash instead of pumpkin in your favorite pie recipe.
Every other recipe
Add squash to risotto.
Season with curry, and use as a filling for turnovers.
Saute in a heavy pan with walnuts and Asiago cheese, or your favorite cheese and nut combination.
Add squash to the cheese sauce for a homemade butternut mac and cheese, seasoned with mustard, nutmeg and cayenne.
I'm certain that I missed at least one recipe. Did I miss your favorite? Let me know.
The impossibility of being comprehensive
Winter squash is versatile, and it takes well to seasoning with the flavors of many lands. It also stores well, so if you brought home as much squash as you could lift from the market and then only cooked half of it, you can let it sit out on the counter until you next get inspired and not worry about it spoiling.