Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Butternut Squash

Have you ever tried to cut a butternut squash? It’s as awkward to cut as it is delicious to eat and when I attempt to cut the same, I am fairly certain that I will sacrifice a small limb. For this reason, I usually opt for the handy-dandy butternut squash cubes that Trader Joe’s conveniently sells…in a hermetically (ok, maybe this is an exaggeration) sealed plastic bag. Yes, this is indeed an avoidance proclivity because I really should learn how to properly (and safely) dismantle this bulbous beauty, but, quite honestly, I have already mastered the art of opening a plastic bag and why jeopardize the obliteration of a useful skill? Unless, of course, the bagged version is not available.

Where’s my sharp knife?

And cutting board?

It was my turn to cook, and as you may have guessed, I decided to make something that included butternut squash….Barley Risotto with Caramelized Butternut Squash. This was very easy to make and to give it extra flavor, I added some chopped fresh rosemary and sage from my herb containers.

So, here is how you cut a butternut squash…

First, cut the ends off of both sides and then cut the bulb from the longer cylindrical piece.

Next, use a vegetable peeler to peel both the bulb and the longer piece. Cut the bulb in half and scoop the seeds and the membranes out.

Cut the longer piece in half and cube both ends into the desired size.

That wasn’t so bad!

I caramelized the butternut squash in some olive oil and butter and a tiny bit of sugar and set them aside….they should still be a little crunchy. Next, I sautéed ½ of a sweet onion in olive oil until translucent. To the same pot, I added 4 cups of chicken stock and 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped rosemary and sage. I brought that to a boil and added a whole box of quick barley and the caramelized butternut squash (to allow it to cook through). I turned the heat down simmered for 10 minutes, then I removed it from the heat, covered it and let it sit for 5 more minutes. Just before serving I added some grated Parmesan cheese (any sturdy cheese would work nicely as well).

I served it with grilled chicken with a lemon-butter sauce (I’ll post this recipe later) and a salad of field greens, honeycrisp apples, fennel and Cotswold cheese tossed with pumpkin butter vinaigrette. Very tasty indeed. Oh…I usually tell you where I get my recipes…it is from my own test kitchen!

After dinner we sat on my back porch and enjoyed the breathtaking dusk sky and talked. Later, we knitted and watched GLEE with the youngsters …it was Britney Spears night and I am embarrassed to say that I was mildly entertained. Please don't tell anyone.

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