BUTTERNUT SQUASH BRAISED with THYME & CIDER

Sweet butternut squash is a perfect vegetable to braise in the slow cooker because it becomes caramelized and tender when cooked low and slow.  The addition of thyme and apple cider gives this squash lots of personality.

½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

¼ c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1 c. apple cider

2 tsp. dried thyme

4 c. 1-inch chunks peeled and seed butternut squash

Combine all the ingredients in 5- to 7-qt. Slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 3 ½ to 4 hrs., until squash is tender.  Serve squash from cooker set on warm.  Also excellent pureed.  Serves 6-8.  Found in Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever by Diane Phillips.

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Squash Stewed in Coconut Milk

This sweet, warm dessert is perfect in fall or winter.  Coconut milk provides calcium, iron, magnesium, and other minerals.  Squash is full of beta carotene.  Be sure to add the pumpkin seeds for protein.

3 c. coconut milk

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or honey (optional)

1 med. hubbard, kabucha (Sunshine), or butternut squash, cubed (7 to 8 c.)

½ c. toasted pumpkin seeds

Place coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, and sweetener in pan.  Bring to a gentle boil over med. Heat while you prepare the squash.  Peel hubbard or butternut squash if using.  Kabucha (Sunshine squash) doesn’t need to be peeled – just wash it.  Cut off stem ends.  Cut open squash and remove pulp and seeds.  Cut squash into 1-inch cubes.  Add to coconut milk mixture and return to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 min., or until squash is tender.  Don’t stir the mixture so squash cubes can retain their shape.  Ladle squash and liquid into bowls and sprinkle seeds over the top.  Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook, Cathe Olson.

Citrus Squash Bake

Fruit harmonizes beautifully with sweet winter squash, creating a burst of sunshine on the plate.

1-6 hard-shelled winter squash, such as acorn, buttercup, golden nugget, Hubbard, red kuri, or turban

6 tbsp. butter

6 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. grated orange zest

½ tsp. salt

3 oranges, peeled and sectioned

1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

¼ c. golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place whole squash in large baking pan.  Add about ¼ inch of water.  Bake for 45 to 60 min, until skins are fork tender.  Remove squash from oven and cut into serving-size pieces: halves for smaller squash and quarters or serving-size wedges for larger squash.  Scoop out and discard seeds and fibers.  Resturn squash to baking pan, cut-side up.  Sprinkle each with salt.  Fill each cavity with ½ Tbsp. of butter, ½ Tbsp. of the sugar, and ¼ tsp. of the orange zest.  Divide orange and grapefruit sections and raisins equally among the squash pieces.  Bake for another 25 min.  Serve hot.  Serves 6.

Recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman

Gingered Winter Squash with Pecans and Cranberries

1 ½ – 2 pounds butternut squash                                                      3-4 tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup                                                                  1 tsp. ground ginger

½ c. pecan pieces                                                                                 ¼ c. dried cranberries or cherries

2 Tbsp. white wine or water                                                               2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly oil a large shallow roasting pan or half sheet pan.  Peel squash, slice in half, and scoop out the fibers and seeds.  Cut into ½-inch cubes.  Combine squash, 3 Tbsp. melted butter, maple syrup, and ground ginger in a large bowl and toss to coat.  Arrange in a single layer in the pan.  Roast for 30 min., until squash is tender, stirring every 10 min. or so for even cooking.  While the squash is roasting, arrange pecans in a single layer in a small pan, such as a cake tin.  Toast for 8-10 min. in oven, until lightly colored and fragrant.  Set aside.  Combine cranberries with wine and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat, until cranberries are softened.  When squash is tender, transfer to a serving bowl.  Add pecans, cranberries, and crystallized ginger. Toss to mix.  If squash is dry, or if you prefer a richer-tasting dish, add remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter and toss.  Serve hot.  Serves 4-6.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

You can vary the veggies, but try to include at least one sweet vegetable (carrot, sweet potato, and parsnip) and one with a stronger flavor (turnip or rutabaga).  The natural sweetness of the veggies and garlic develops with the slow roasting.

6-8 c. winter vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, beets, winter squash (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces or slices ½-inch thick)

2 Tbsp. oil

1Tbsp. dried or 3 Tbsp. fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano

Toss ingredients together (keep onions separate, as they will roast faster; add them to the pan 10 min into the baking time).  Spread in a single layer on greased baking pans.  Roast in a preheated oven at 425 F until tender, 30-45 min, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with roasted garlic sauce.

Roasted garlic: Remove loose papery layers from outside of a whole garlic bulb but do not peel.  Slice off top of the bulb, exposing the tip of each clove.  Place on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil or just season with salt and pepper.  Wrap tightly and bake alongside veggies until tender.

Roasted garlic sauce: Bake one head of garlic as directed.  Squeeze soft roasted cloves into a small bowl, mash with fork, and stir in ¾ c. plain yogurt.  (Try this sauce as a raw veggie dip.)

Chili Brown Sugar Delicata Squash with Pears

1 pound delicata squash (about 1 large)        2 medium ripe but firm pears, sliced

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 2 slices bacon (more or less, depending on tastes)

2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out the seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with pears, oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet. Roast the squash and pears until just tender, stirring once or twice, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 2 teaspoons fat from the pan. Over medium heat, stir in water, brown sugar and chili powder. Add the squash and pears; toss to coat. Crumble the bacon on top.