Filling the Freezer—Winter Squash

Butternut squash is one vegetable that transfers beautifully from the freezer to the table. About the time my local farmer’s market is winding down for the season, I purchase more squash than I can possibly carry in one load. And when I have a little bit of time at home, I load my oven with split, seeded, unpeeled squash and roast. After cooling, it’s easy to scoop the flesh and purée. I later use the puréed squash as a delicious side (season on the fly with maple syrup and cinnamon, or orange zest and ginger), or as the star ingredient in soup or risotto.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking trays with aluminum foil. Spray with vegetable oil spray. Place seeded, unpeeled, halved squash cut side down on prepared tray. Pierce each squash half several times with knife or skewer. Bake until squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Peel. Process or chunk.

Butternut Squash Soup

4 cups pureed butternut squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
pinch grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until heated through. (Season this basic soup to taste. Consider minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, orange zest, pureed caramelized onion. Present with a dollop of sour cream and chives.)

Butternut Squash Risotto

6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups butternut squash puree
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
salt and pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together stock and squash puree. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to a low heat. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm butter and olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté until onions begin to brown. Add rice and stir until the grains are well coated and almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed. Add the simmering stock mixture a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more. When the rice is tender to the bite but still slightly firm in the center (about 30 minutes), stir in cheese. Add more stock if needed so the rice is thick and creamy.

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