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The golden orange flesh of butternut squash is not only lovely to behold and yummy to taste but almost mind-bogglingly versatile. At its most basic, baked with a little butter and brown sugar, it makes a fine side dish. Butternut squash can be stuffed, made into creamy soups or hearty stews, or used as the base of a soufflé. It adds fiber and density to breads muffins and can be used instead of pumpkin in pies. From casseroles to pasta dishes, cubed or shredded butternut squash sweetly mingles its delicate flavor with other foods.
A simple, healthy, and delicious creamy, autumn soup is a cinch for even a novice cook. Simmered in chicken or vegetable stock with a little sautéed onion then tossed into the blender, it makes a light first course. Butternut squash plays well with a myriad of other foods, though. A sweeter soup results when an apple is added. For a heartier version, cauliflower and roasted red peppers deepen the flavor.
A winter stew based on diced butternut squash, onion, and garlic is a winner on a cold day. Almost anything can jump in, from canned chickpeas to chicken or beef. This stew is equally delicious if done vegetarian style, substituting tofu or tempeh for meat.
Butternut squash soufflé style makes diners think they’ve died and gone to heaven. While the word soufflé makes some cooks quake, butternut soufflé is sturdy enough to stand on its own. A few beaten eggs, a splash of milk, and just a little butter are all it takes. For a sweeter, dessert-like version, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg transform the dish.
When butternut squash is cut the long way and seeded, it presents the perfect cup for all kinds of stuffing. Rice and cheddar cheese are one option, although some cooks prefer a bread-based stuffing with minced onion and herbs. Another idea for stuffing uses diced ham and apples along with chopped walnuts.
There are as many recipes for squash casserole as there are cooks to make them. The hearty, dense flesh of the squash can be combined with any kind of meat, although meatless versions are just as satisfying. Other veggies like spinach, celery, and parsnips work well. Tossing in a handful of cheese and finishing the casserole with buttery breadcrumbs make it a meal.
This versatile vegetable can even be pureed and added to sweetbread batter or stirred into muffin mix. Instead of pumpkin, many a cook has found that this squash works as well as a pie filling. There’s almost nothing the mighty butternut can’t do. It even works, uncooked and uneaten, as decoration on the autumn table.
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