I've been reading a lot about butternut squash lately, and it keeps appearing in recipes in the cooking magazines I subscribe to. I'm not a big fan of summer squash, but after reading the nutritional profile of butternut squash, a member of the winter squash family, I decided to give it a try. One cup of cubed butternut squash contains just 80 calories and is high in dietary fiber, Vitamins A and C, potassium and manganese.
Tonight's dinner was Winter Harvest Vegetable Soup and Artichoke Bread.
For the soup:
3 medium carrots, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 cups cubed peeled potatoes
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
2 large tart apples, peeled and chopped
2 medium turnips, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir the carrots, celery, onions and garlic in butter and oil until tender.
Add the broth, potatoes, squash, apples, turnips, parsnips and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Stir in the basil, thyme and pepper; simmer 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.
I took a lot of liberties with this recipe, substituting a teaspoon of celery salt in place of the celery, omitting the bay leaf, turnips and parsnips, using Italian seasoning in place of the thyme, and cutting the amount of broth in half. I also used sodium-free bouillon granules in place of canned broth. While there is a lot of chopping to do in preparation for this soup, I used my Pampered Chef chopper for the carrots, garlic and onion and a really fantastic veggie peeler I got at Target to peel the apples and potatoes.
It turned out fantastic and I don't have a picture because we ate it all. The squash was superb, but I did learn that handling butternut squash is difficult!
The shape makes it awkward to hold, and the rind is extremely tough. I could barely get my (very sharp) knife through it and at one point, started to worry that I might slip and chop off a few of my fingers. After managing to cut a few chunks off of it, I peeled and cubed those and threw them in the pot with the rest of the veggies. Then I somehow managed to cut the rest of the squash in half, scraped out the seeds, and placed it cut side down on a greased baking sheet and roasted it for 40 minutes at 400.
When it came out, the flesh was nice and tender and the skin had shriveled up and started to separate from the flesh. It came off easily with a paring knife, and I cubed the rest to use another day.
Many stores are now selling butternut squash that is already peeled and cubed, and considering the difficulty I had with it, I might consider buying the prepackaged stuff next time. Because I like my fingers and I would like to keep them.
The Artichoke Bread was also yummy.
1 tube (11 ounces) refrigerated crusty French loaf
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Bake loaf according to package directions; cool. Cut bread in half lengthwise; place on an ungreased baking sheet.
In a bowl, combine the artichokes, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and garlic; spread evenly over cut sides of bread. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Slice and serve warm.
I wasn't fully paying attention when I was mixing the topping and accidentally mixed in the mozzarella cheese instead of saving it to add on top. So I just left out the Parmesan and added an extra couple of tablespoons of mayo. Creamy and delicious!
Maureen ate it up and Johnny, as usual, took one look and pronounced, "I don't like this."