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Archive for Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Squash needn’t be dull uncle at Thanksgiving table

November 8, 2006

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Though a staple of many Thanksgiving tables, traditional butternut squash purees often feel like the culinary family's dull uncle. Against the fat of mashed potatoes, the sweet zip of cranberry sauce and the savory chew of turkey, squash can seem uninteresting.

To give this dish a mild tweak of personality, consider Real Simple magazine's recipe for roasted butternut squash puree. Roasting sweetens and intensifies the squash's flavor, and a bit of honey, butter and thyme go a long way to pulling this dish from the doldrums.

For a more radical rethinking, try Bon Appetit magazine's butternut squash and apple bisque. This soup pulls squash from the sidelines and lets it lead the meal as the perfect light starter.

For the middle ground, try the roasting without the pureeing. Country Home magazine's recipe for simply roasted squash mixes things up by ditching butternut in favor of large chunks of the more visually appealing kabocha or acorn.

Roast butternut squash puree

3 butternut squash, each about 2 pounds

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

6 small shallots, halved

4 tablespoons honey

6 sprigs fresh thyme

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the ends of the squash, then halve lengthwise, discarding the seeds. Place the squash, cut-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Season with salt and pepper, then top with shallots, honey, thyme and butter.

Cover the squash with foil and roast until softened, 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover and set aside until cool enough to handle. Working in batches, scoop the squash flesh and shallots from the peels into a food processor.

Puree the squash mixture until smooth, then transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with remaining squash and shallots. Serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

- Recipe from the November 2006 issue of Real Simple magazine

Roasted butternut squash puree sweetens and intensifies the squash's flavor by adding a bit of honey, butter and thyme.

Roasted butternut squash puree sweetens and intensifies the squash's flavor by adding a bit of honey, butter and thyme.

Butternut squash and apple bisque

3 tablespoons butter

5 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled and seeded butternut squash

1 1/4 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

1/2 teaspoon allspice

3 1/2 cups vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

1 cup whipping cream, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the squash, onion, carrot and celery and saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the apple, allspice, broth and cider. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

In a blender, puree the soup, in batches if necessary. Return soup to the pot. Add 1/2 cup cream and bring to a simmer. Thin soup with additional broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls, then drizzle with cream. Garnish with parsley.

- November 2006 issue of Bon Appetit magazine

Simply roasted squash

2 kabocha squash or large acorn squash (31/2 to 3 3/4 pounds each)

1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Several sprigs fresh watercress or oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. With a large knife, cut each half into 11/2- to 2-inch wedges. Arrange the wedges on the baking sheets, the brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the squash 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork and browned around the edges. Transfer the squash to a serving platter. Drizzle with additional olive oil and garnish with watercress or oregano.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

- Recipe from the November 2006 issue of Country Home magazine

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