Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Long Hiatus, Butternut Squash

Well it's been quite a while since my last post. I guess that's probably because it's been quite a while since I cooked anything decent enough to blog about. Sad. I'm back now, though (really, promise!), and I'm really psyched for fall cooking.

Boyfriend went to the farmers market last week instead of me. Despite the fact that he came home with approximately none of the things I asked for and what must be a bushel of peppers (peppers, of course, being the only produce we already had in the fridge), he did manage to impress me by finding some weird little "baby" butternut squashes.

Now, I looooove butternut squash. I could devote an entire root cellar to it. I could eat it every day from October to May. And if I had an entire root cellar, I just might. These ones were maybe a third the size of a regular butternut. Very cute, actually. And the perfect serving size for me (and Boyfriend, I guess, if he's lucky).

The smell of butternut squash roasting is one of the quintessential signifiers of autumn to me. It brings me right back to evenings when it got just cool enough to light a fire in the fireplace. Mom would be curled up in an armchair, watching football. Dad would be standing at the stove, stirring this or that, but mainly leisurely sipping his Manhattan.

Mind you, despite the heartwarming memories it invokes, when I was little, I hated butternut squash. I was forced to eat it every week or so during the winter, and it made me want to vomit. I think this could be attributed to several factors.
A. My dad roasted the squash, added brown sugar and maybe some butter, pureed it, and baked it again--I'm still not a fan of it this way.
B. I left it on my plate until I lost the "eat it or no dessert" stand-off with my parents, meaning I only ever ate it cold.
C. I didn't like any food when I was little.

Some friends of mine (the granola family) served me butternut squash one day that rocked my world. They roasted it in the oven, drizzled in olive oil and copiously smeared with garlic. Hell, I'd eat my left arm if you drizzled it in olive oil and smeared it with garlic. This opened up the doors to butternut squash soups, sauces, chunks of it pasta dishes, sweet dishes (butternut squash pie? WAY better than pumpkin), the list could go on and on. You can pair it with savory herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage, with tropical flavors like coconut or curry, with traditional American fall ingredients like cinnamon, apples, and cloves--the possibilities are limitless! Can you see why I say I could eat it every day??

On to practical matters. I made ravioli with a butternut squash cream sauce yesterday. It was quite delicious, if I do say so myself. Here's how:

I used...

1 "baby" butternut squash (you could go with about a third to a half of a regular one) from the farmers market

1 italian sausage from Sweet Grass Meats

1/2 a medium white onion, also from the farmers market

a few swirls around the pan of chardonnay from Dr. Frank's winery (the only white I had on hand)

1 cupish whole milk (cream might be better if you're the kind of person who keeps cream around)

2 cloves garlic

small sprinkle of cinnamon

salt and pepper


olive oil

16 or so frozen ravioli (it can be made fresh, but...I just didn't)

gala apples (another tart apple like macintosh would work just as well)

Okay, so I began by roasting the squash in a 375 degree oven for 20 or so minutes--drizzled in olive oil, with salt, pepper, and a little cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Then, I cut the sausage out of its casing and cooked the loose meat in a sauce pan. When it was done, I removed it and added the chopped onion to the pan with some butter. After 5-10 minutes I added some white wine and garlic and turned up the heat.

Meanwhile, I scooped the now-cooked squash out of its peel, into the blender. I added the milk, blended, and poured it into the wine sauce. I also added the sausage back in.

While it all simmered, I cooked the ravioli for 6-8 minutes. When they were done, I put them in bowls, added the sauce, and topped it with a few slices of apple. Mmmm.

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