Yesterday’s delicious feature, In the Veggie Kitchen, with our friends Jenni Kayne and Valleybrink Road is filled with healthy, Thanksgiving table-ready recipes. This one, for a festive butternut squash dish, has our whole team counting down the days til we’re able to begin the holiday cooking. We thought it deserved some special treatment!
What thrills us most about this veg-tastic recipe is Barrett of Valleybrink Road’s genius tip for dealing with high-maintenance fall squashes. Maybe we’re the only amateurs in the veggie kitchen, but we’ve worried ourselves a time too many with large knives and small hatchets in the pursuit of spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ or baked maple acorn squash. For us, this advice is a fall-cooking game-changer!
Barrett on the butternut: Instead of battling with your knife to cut each squash open, stick the entire squash in a large pot of boiling water. Cover the squash completely with water. It will bob a little, but don’t worry if the top sticks out a bit. Leave the lid cracked, but keep the pot almost fully covered.
Depending on the size of the squash, let it cook for 45 min – 1 1/2 hours. You will know it is finished when a knife goes easily into it, piercing the squash all the way through. Make sure the middle is cooked by piercing it, otherwise you could end up with a squash that is cooked on the outside but rock solid at the core.
Once it is finished, pull it out, scrape the peel off (it basically falls off), remove the stem, and you are left with a cooked squash! Slice the cooked squash in half and remove the seeds. You can then mash the squash up to your desired consistency with the back of a fork or large spoon. (Clean the seeds and set aside to toast later.)
Butternut Squash with Aged Balsamic, Chile and Breadcrumbs
1 large butternut squash, about 2 1⁄2 pounds
2 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup homemade breadcrumbs (see recipe below)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves removed 1⁄2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add the entire squash and cook, partially covered until tender, about 45t minutes, until a knife can easily pierce through the flesh. Remove the squash, cool slightly, and then remove and discard the stem and peel. Reserve the seeds but discard the stringy interior.
Transfer the flesh to a large serving dish and mash with a fork into an even layer. Drizzle with the aged balsamic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.
Heat 3 tablespoons of squash seeds in a skillet until dry. Add 1- tablespoon oil, sea salt, and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
Toss homemade breadcrumbs with thyme, chili flake, and sea salt. Place in an oven heated at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over squash.
Finish with parmigiano reggiano and toasted squash seeds.
1 loaf of sourdough bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crust from a loaf of sourdough bread. Cut into cubes. Place in a food processor and pulse until the bread is a crumb like texture. Toss breadcrumbs with enough olive oil to coat and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, season with salt and pepper, and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.