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The Butternut Squash Rediscovered

“Don’t forget to plant the butternut squash…”

I kept urging my husband this spring, who does the bulk of the spring garden work every year.

He didn’t forget. A good thing too. We lost most of our garden’s potatoes to blight this year. But in our basement cold room where potatoes in gunny sacks would be by now, there are dozens of tan-coloured, bell-shaped squash instead.

This now-sought-after variety of winter squash was once obscure.

ROASTED VEGETABLE SOUP

This recipe is fromGreat Tastes of Manitoba 2009.

1 acorn or butternut

squash, cut into

eighths, seeded

3 carrots, peeled and

coarsely sliced

3 zucchini, peeled and

coarsely sliced

1 red onion, quartered

1/2 head cauliflower, cut

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine squash, carrots, zucchini, red onion, cauliflower and garlic in a large bowl. Toss with canola oil, basil, salt and pepper. Place mixture on baking sheet, making sure the squash is cut side down. Roast in oven for 50 minutes or until tender. Using a big spoon, scoop the squash out of its skin and into a food processor. Remove garlic skin. Place in food processor. Add carrots, zucchini, onion and cauliflower. Purée the mixture, slowly adding half the amount of chicken broth. May have to work in two batches. A smooth texture is desired. Place purée mixture in large saucepan and add remaining broth. Mix well and heat through. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

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Flip through your community cookbooks sometime. I’ve yet to come across a recipe for butternut squash.

It’s only been in the last few years that more home cooks have begun to grow it for their own use, or buy from the store, having discovered its great flavour and texture in soups, stews and casseroles. Recipes now abound in food magazines.

It’s rather interesting how this heavy, not-so-easy fruit – yes it is a fruit – has gained such appeal. A whole squash might

into florets

1 head of garlic

1/2 c. canola oil

1 tbsp. dried basil

Sea salt and pepper

to taste

7 c. chicken broth

look intimidating on the kitchen counter.

But I think cooks have discovered, in addition to its versatility, that it’s also an extremely economical addition to the pantry. Its abundant firm orange flesh is great for any number of meals and baked goodies. From a single squash I’ve produced a rich, creamy soup, a filling casserole, and a stew and still had flesh left over to mix into a quick bread.

A little background on the butternut squash. It’s a winter squash, and, as mentioned, fruit, being loaded with seeds

WHIPPED SQUASH

This is a simple way to make a colourful and great-tasting side dish. It’s my own adaptation from several recipes for mashed or whipped squash. – Lorraine

1 butternut squash,

halved and seeded

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. light sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place squash halves on a cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake about one hour until tender. Scrape squash from skin and mix with rest of ingredients. Whip until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

MEXICAN SQUASH STEW

1 c. canned tomatoes

1 389-ml can tomatoes

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

and oregano

1/2 tsp. each cayenne

and allspice

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 c. butternut squash, cut

In a large pan mix together tomatoes with tomato sauce, spices and garlic. Boil, then add cubed squash. Cook at lower temperature until squash is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve topped with parsley and sour cream.

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. mace, cinnamon

or nutmeg

into 1-inch cubes

1 19-oz. can (540 mL)

black beans, rinsed

and drained

1 c. frozen peas or corn

Fresh parsley if you

have it

Sour cream

you scrape out from its stringy interior. Don’t confuse butternut squash with buttercup squash, which is a turban squash type with dark-green skin. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if you do. Buttercup squash works well in most recipes calling for butternut squash.

And if you find you can’t get it year round, and don’t grow it yourself, pay heed. It’s growing popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed and prompted provincial agricultural staff to begin research into new ways to make it available for longer periods.

Butternut squash does grow well here, but currently the only markets for it are fresh markets, limiting its sales to retailers or direct to consumers.

This year, three butternut squash growers in Manitoba teamed up with the Canada Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre and MAFRI staff to grow a demonstration plot and evaluate a novel processing method for butternut squash and the process quality of different butternut squash varieties.

Here’s a few recipes for using butternut squash this fall.

BUTTERCUP SQUASH CASSEROLE

This is a recipe found on Peak of the Market’s recipe site. This is a recipe for buttercup squash but you can substitute butternut squash for it too. You can find many more recipes on this website at www.peakmarket.com/recipes.

2 c. butternut squash,

cut into small cubes

1 c. potatoes,

cut into cubes

1 medium red

onion, chopped

1 small container of

sour cream

1 c. marble cheese

(your choice of mild,

medium or strong)

1 c. mozzarella cheese

(grated or cut in

small cubes)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. basil leaf

In a large bowl; mix ingredients together. Transfer to a glass pan with a cover and place in oven for about 1 hour at 325 F. Note: You can substitute butternut squash for buttercup.

Serves 4

A RECIPE REQUEST

Karen Tjaden of Homewoodis looking for a Skor apple cake recipe which she recalls making several times but has since lost the recipe. The recipe includes a bag of Skor bits (half in the cake batter, the other half on top with slivered almonds) and chopped apples. If someone has this recipe could they share it with us? Many thanks!

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