The fall season is firmly upon us and with it comes an abundance of hearty root vegetables, potatoes and squashes.
Squash is one of my favourite foods, and one of the easiest squashes to prepare is the pear-shaped butternut squash. Its sweet, slightly nutty flavour just goes so well in savoury dishes.
When cooked, squashes become very soft, which makes them the perfect addition to soups and stews. Don’t forget to save the seeds, which can be roasted into a delicious, crunchy treat. (Bonus: They’re a great alternative to croutons!)
To help you warm up on the cold nights to come, I’d like to share two of my favourite squash recipes: Curried Squash Soup and Quick Thai Chicken and Squash Curry.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Curried Squash Soup
(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)
1 butternut squash
2-1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1-1/2 tsp each ground coriander and turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Peel squash and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Rinse seeds and pat dry. Toss with 1/2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch each of the salt and pepper. Set aside.
In large saucepan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper (if using) and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have softened completely, about 5 minutes. Add butternut squash, water, and remaining salt and pepper.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, roast squash seeds in 350°F (180°C) oven, tossing once, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
In batches, in blender, purée soup until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Top with roasted seeds.
Quick Thai Chicken and Squash Curry
(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)
(Tip: Look for Thai curry paste and fish sauce in the Asian aisle of your grocery store. If you can’t find Kaffir lime leaves, substitute with 2 tsp grated lime zest stirred in at the end of cooking.)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste or Thai red curry paste
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 3/4-inch (2 cm) chunks
1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
2 to 3 Kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups cut green beans (about 1 inch/2.5 cm)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp lime juice
In large non-stick skillet or wok, heat 1 tsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken. Set aside onto plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining oil and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry paste; cook for 1 minute.
Stir in squash, coconut milk, Kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and pepper. Bring to boil; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in green beans and chicken. Cook, partially covered, until beans are tender and squash is soft, about 8 minutes.
Stir in cilantro and lime juice.
Do you like squash?