As the weather becomes cooler, I can’t help myself from buying various pumpkins, gourds, squashes and indian corn. It’s all part of the autumn ritual. I love the vibrant tones of autumn. I’ll haul myself over to the farm stand and start stocking up so that I can decorate indoors and out. I really can’t help myself and usually need a couple of trips back and forth before I think I have enough color around me. But even more important, is to buy some squashes to cook with . My favorite squash is butternut. I love the texture , color and subtle sweetness. Early in my cooking days, I was hesistant to cook butternut squash, because I found it hard to cut. I decided to cut it in half and just roast it with a little olive oil or butter. It saves alot of work and adds great flavor. The first recipe is my favorite butternut squash soup. It’s easy to prepare and rich in taste. The second recipe is my autumn macaroni and cheese with roasted butternut squash. I like to serve my mac and cheese in small cast iron serving dishes. These smaller side dishes feel a little more grownup for a dish that appeals to the child in us all. I like to get playful with the ingredients of mac and cheese and one of many favorite versions is this butternut squash which is perfect for fall.
From by the bay wishing you the squash filled food memories!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4 slices of bacon
2 butternut squash, halved and seeded
3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leave
Chives, chopped to garnish
In a skillet cook bacon until crispy. Put aside to cool. Once cool crumble bacon into bits, set aside for later to garnish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F , on an aluminum lined baking sheet add the butternut squash dotted with 2 tablespoons butter, then season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes until the squash is tender, depending on the size of the squash. Remove squash from oven and spoon out the pulp from skin. Set aside. In a large soup pot melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter, add onion and sauté until soft about 5 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg and sauté for another minute. Slowly add the chicken broth, bay leaf and roasted butternut squash. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove bay leave. Puree in food processor until very smooth. Stir in ½ cup crème fraiche. Serve soup warm. Garnish with crumbled bacon and chives.
Roasted Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Sage Leaves
1/2 lb shell pasta
1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded.
1 small onion , sliced thinly
1 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry sage leaves
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for panko topping
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 cups shredded fontina cheese
½ cup panko bread crumbs
8 sage leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F , on an aluminum lined baking sheet add the butternut squash and the onions. Drizzle with the olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes until the squash is tender, depending on the size of the squash. Remove squash and onions from oven. Cool and then scoop the flesh of the squash along with the onions into a food processor to puree. Set aside. Fill a large sauce pan with water and bring to a boil to be used to cook pasta. On medium heat add to a small saute pan the remaining olive oil , when hot add the sage leaves and saute quickly on both sides until crisp. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. Place milk into a medium sauce pan and heat until it is about to boil. While the milk is heating, in another sauce pan, heat 3 tablespoons butter until melted. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cook the mixture for about 1-2 minutes until it becomes a golden color. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture whisking continuously. Bring to a boil and then cook for another 10 minutes continuing to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. When the sauce is ready it should stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Add the shredded parmesan and fontina cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. To the cheese sauce add 1 1/2 cups of the roasted butternut squash puree. Place sauce aside. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente according to package directions and strain through colander. Rinse with cool water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and mix well. Divide pasta between 4 small 8 ounce cast iron serving dishes. In a sauté pan melt remaining butter and add the breadcrumbs and sauté 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and top each dish of pasta with the bread crumbs. Place dishes onto a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 25 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble. Remove from oven and serve with crispy sage leaves sprinkled on top.