Food

Wrestling a Weaponized Squash into Multiple Meals

This is the season of miracles. So let’s call this the Miracle of the Humongous Squash.

You may be a subscriber of Imperfect Foods.  If not, you may by now have at least heard of this company that delivers produce (and a line of packaged goods recently added to the lineup) to your door. The company was founded just a few years ago with a commitment to fighting food waste. Despite the name, the produce they ship is more likely to be surplus than imperfect.

But I laughed out loud when I got my last box. Inside was this enormous butternut squash, weighing in at 4-1/2 pounds. Don’t know if I’ve seen one bigger.

When I reached a certain age (I think it was 55), I started joking that my biggest fear was being the subject of the headline “Elderly Man Mugged.” But I briefly contemplated carrying this squash around in my briefcase, because it would be awesome to be the subject of the headline, “Elderly man fends off mugger with giant squash.”

That is one big squash. Photos: Bob Benenson

Better judgment prevailed, so I decided to make a couple of dishes with this feed-your-whole-family Cucurbitaceae. And though I feared I might have to borrow a chainsaw, it proved delightfully yielding to my chef’s knife, and because of its (much) bigger surface area, was actually easier to peel than your average butternut.

I ended up making three things: a squash soup made with carrots, celery, onion and homemade chicken broth; cubed and roasted squash with a maple cinnamon glaze; and roasted and salted seeds (Never, ever throw out the seeds! They make delicious snacks.)

So there you have it. No Squash Too Big. I can’t promise you it would last you eight days. But it might.

Here are some recipes.

Butternut Squash Soup

Note: I love pureed vegetable soups, which is why my immersion blender (aka stick blender) is one of my favorite tools — you can puree the soup right in the pot in which you’ve cooked it. If you’re like me, then the size of the chunks of vegetables is immaterial, since they are all getting pulverized in the end. If you prefer brothy soups, decide when you’re chopping how big you want the vegetable pieces to be.

 

Ingredients
Vegetable oil
1 medium to large onion
2 medium to large carrots (scrubbed but not peeled)
2-3 stalks of celery
1 large butternut squash (about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
Salt to taste
4 to 6 cups of chicken broth, preferably homemade
Herb seasoning to taste (I like Herbes de Provence or thyme)

Instructions
– Chop the onion, sauté over medium heat in vegetable oil (just enough to coat the vegetables).
– When the onion starts to soften, add carrots, and cook until they are soft enough to cut with the edge of a cooking spoon.
– Add celery, cook until just softened.
– Add butternut squash, cook until just softened.
(As the vegetables are cooking, season very lightly with salt. You will add more.)
– Add broth to cover. Taste, and slowly add salt, a little at a time. (Do not over-salt here. If it needs more at the end of cooking, you can add some then.)
– Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low. Add herbs or other seasoning if desired, then cook for 15-20 minutes.

If you are not pureeing, you are done here. If you are pureeing, let it cool for a few minutes before attacking it with the immersion blender, so you don’t get sprayed with hot soup.

 

Roasted and Glazed Butternut Squash

This one, like most roasted vegetables, is ridiculously easy.

Ingredients
Vegetable oil
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (size of cubes is up to you)
Salt
Maple syrup
Cinnamon

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400°F.
– Place cubed squash in a large pan or pot with vegetable oil to coat.
– Place pan in preheated oven, and cook for 40 minutes.
– Add a healthy splash of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon (you want to wait until the last few minutes so the syrup doesn’t caramelize and burn).
-Cook another 10-15 minutes until done.

Roasted Squash Seeds

Cleaning the seeds out of the gunky core of a squash is a bit messy, but roasting them is super easy. Nothing but oil and salt here, but play with the fats (different oils, bacon fat, etc.) or seasonings (Cajun roasted seeds, anyone?)

Ingredients
Cleaned and rinsed seeds from one or more squash or pumpkin
Olive oil
Salt

Instructions
Preheat over to 325°F.
– Place seeds in a pan (or on a cookie sheet) large enough to fit them in one layer.
– Coat seeds lightly with olive oil and salt to taste (don’t overdo it).
– Roast seeds, stirring or shaking occasionally for 20-30 minutes, until they are crunchy, but not burned.

How do you deal with giant vegetables? Let us know some of your favorite butternut squash recipes.

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