Since I didn’t buy any squash the farmers' market that weekend, I had to pick some up from the grocery store on the way home. During the fall and winter, most Ontario grocery stores sell Ontario grown squash, so I happy when they had a good selection. With a one pound squash in each arm I headed to the checkout. In her friendly, yet confused voice, the cashier asked “What are those?”. When I told her the name of my bowling pin-shaped vegetables, she then asked, “Melon?”. Trying to help, the customer next in line said, “Aren’t those spaghetti squash?”. Clearly, people could use a little information. Hence this post.
The skin is smooth, and uniformly coloured beige to tan with a slightly orange tinge. Usually, the shape of a half-dumbell. Medium-sized butternut squash (about 1 kg) have the richest flavour. The skin should be firm and unmarked. (As in the image at the end of this post)
Butternut squash is versatile. It can be used to make soups, gratins, risottos, or it can simply be spiced and roasted. However, the rind is tough, so they can be difficult to peel and dice unless you use the proper technique. For many recipes, a short cut is to halve the squash lengthwise, and roast it cut-side down on a baking sheet for 45 minutes at 350°C. Once the flesh has cooked (and softened), it can be scooped out and used to prepare your dish.
If you have one, the perfect place to store your squash is a cellar. Otherwise keep them at room temperature. I have kept butternut squash on the counter for 3-4 weeks without any problems.
A natural source of beta carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fibre.
Butternut squash belongs to the Cucurbita moschata species and is closely related to pumpkin, and sweet potato. It has been cultivated in Central and South America since at least the fifteenth century. In Ontario, they are grown during the summer are harvested in September, October and even November, as long as there is no frost. Since butternut squash store well at the right temperature (10°C), they are available from September to March.
45 minutes (mostly unattended)
Cook: 4 hours (low)
Yield: 10 servings (prepared in 6.5 quart slow cooker)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut a slice of the top and bottom of the squash. Stand it up on a cutting board and halve it lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the stringy bits.
Place the pieces cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes.
Mince the garlic and ginger, dice the potatoes, and chop the shallots. Place into the slow cooker.
When the squash is ready, carefully scoop out the flesh and add to the slow cooker.
Add the butter, stock, water, lemon juice, curry, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
Cook for 4 hours on low, or 2 hours on high.
Pureé the soup in a blender or food processor in small batches.
If it is too spicy stir a little cream into your bowl and add some minced cilantro.