Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Squash Times Two

At the beach house, we recently entertained guests from Arkansas. We had a lovely time swimming, eating, and catching up. They brought with them fresh produce from their garden, specifically a watermelon, two acorn squash, and a butternut squash. The butternut squash lasted past their visit, and I found myself staring at it at dinnertime Monday night. The husband was out; I was on my own. Even though it's not quite fall yet in Alabama, I desperately wanted to conjure fall flavors. I decided to turn on the oven, despite the humidity, and roast it. I diced, seasoned, roasted, and then transferred the buttery cubes to a plate. I ate five pieces and realized there was no way I'd finish the whole plate. It was back to the drawing board. I love butternut squash soup, and again, it's a fall staple. I had fat-free half and half and apple cider in the fridge. I used my handy-dandy immersion blender to puree the roasted squash. I had to add a little water to make it the right consistency. I transferred the puree to a small saucepan and added a few tablespoons of cider for subtle sweetness. I wanted to add a bit of cinnamon, but didn't realize my cinnamon spice jar held a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Needless to say, the resulting soup was a bit more dessert-like than I would have preferred for dinner, but it was truly delicious. Maybe if I keep making fall-inspired dishes, the weather will get the hint.

Roasted Butternut Squash
Serves 4

1 medium butternut squashed, peeled, halved and seeds and pulp discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut butternut squash into bite-size cubes. Toss all ingredients in a bowl until squash is coated with oil and seasonings. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet, roast for 40 minutes until squash is lightly caramelized and easily pierced with a fork.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider
Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 cups roasted butternut squash
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider
1/2 cup fat-free half and half (or regular)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

roasted squash or pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Using a blender or immersion blender, puree water with butternut squash until thoroughly liquidy. Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, thinning with apple cider and half and half. Season with cinnamon and cayenne. Stir over medium-low heat until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with roasted squash or pumpkin seeds if desired.

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