I say this every year but I’ll say it again: Fall is my favorite time of year and one of my favorite fall ingredients is winter squash in all its bounty. These recipes will work as holiday side dishes or as main courses any night of the week. Each can be made vegan, vegetarian, or dairy free by simply removing a few ingredients. I’ve used three of my favorites — butternut, acorn and delicata — but any smooth-fleshed winter squash will work, such as kabocha or even pumpkin.
Spice-Roasted Winter Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 delicata squash
1 tablespoon good quality extra
virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
¹⁄₈ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I prefer
Maldon sea salt flakes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cups low sodium chicken or
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
3- to 4-inch Parmesan rind (if available)
¹⁄₈ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or maple syrup
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black
2 cups milk (for richer soup, use 1
cup half-and-half or ½ cup heavy
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, slice off the tops and bottoms of each squash. Cut the butternut squash crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise. Cut the solid pieces (without seeds) into quarters (otherwise they take too long to cook). Scoop out the seeds from the seeded pieces and discard or compost.
Place the acorn squash on its flat bottom and carefully slice in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard or compost. Cut and seed the delicata squash.
Arrange squash pieces flesh side up on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. In a small bowl, add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, sage, and sea salt, and mix until well combined. Sprinkle the mixture liberally over the squash, and massage it into the olive oil-coated pieces. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Heat the butter and oil in a large cast-iron enameled Dutch oven (or heavy stock pot) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Scoop the flesh from the squash into the pot. Add stock, bay leaf, Parmesan rind, vanilla extract or maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind. For creamy soup, turn off the heat, and use a stick blender to purée the mixture. If desired, add milk, half-and-half or cream, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese; stir until incorporated. Reheat until warmed through.
Ladle into soup bowls and (if desired) top with more Parmesan cheese, freshly chopped parsley, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed With Quinoa, Dried Cranberries, And Walnuts
2 delicata squash
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
1 teaspoon ground thyme
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1¾ cups low-sodium vegetable or
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley,
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 fresh sage leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, cut squash in half lengthwise and again crosswise; scoop out the seeds and discard or compost.
Arrange squash pieces flesh side up on a large baking sheet and rub with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In a small bowl, combine sage, rosemary, and thyme with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture liberally over the squash and massage it into the olive oil-coated pieces. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool (leave the oven on).
While the squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly toasted. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then cover pan, and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. Add walnuts, cranberries, and parsley, and fluff with a fork.
Stuff each squash quarter with quinoa mixture and drizzle with olive oil; top with Parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves if desired. Return to oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. If you want a browner, crunchier topping, broil for 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully so the stuffing doesn’t burn).
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