It’s time to re-think your side dishes. We throw a potato at a plate like it’s on an assembly line. It’s time to mix it up. Butternut Squash is also gluten-free, but packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and so much more flavor than a potato – which means you don’t have to add a tone of butter, cheese and sour cream to make it taste good. These two simple butternut squash recipes from Simply Recipes will cure your tired side dish blues.
TIP: For those of us who can hardly find the time to clean, peel, seed and dice a squash, we’re in luck. If you’re willing to pay the cash, you can find them diced, packed and ready to go at most supermarkets.
Butternut Squash with Browned Butter and Thyme Recipe
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, flesh diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the butter, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter. Once melted it will foam up a bit, then subside. Honey-colored browned milk solids will begin to form. The butter should have a wonderful nutty aroma. Remove from heat. Add the thyme, whisking continuously. If using fresh thyme, the mixture will foam up a bit.
(Note that it doesn’t take much time to go from browned butter to burnt butter. You will want to remove the pan from the heat element and place it on a cool surface to help stop the cooking of the butter. If the butter burns, I recommend dumping it and starting over, something I’ve had to do on occasion when not paying close attention.)
2. Add the cubed butternut squash pieces to the pan and return the pan to the burner, heating to medium high. Use a wooden or metal spoon to stir the squash pieces so they are all well coated with the butter thyme mixture. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the squash pieces out in an even layer and let cook, without stirring, so that they brown a bit on one side (several minutes). Stir and spread the pieces out again and let cook without stirring so more sides get browned.
3. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let cook until the squash is tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how big you cut the pieces.
Add more salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with a bit more chopped fresh thyme before serving.
Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeds removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bay leaves (if boiling the squash)
1 heaping cup of walnuts (can substitute pecans or pine nuts)
2-3 Tbsp butter
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper to taste
1a If roasting Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat the cubed squash with a little vegetable oil and spread out onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and roast until the cubes begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
1b If boiling Put 4 cups of water into a medium-sized pot and add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Add the squash to the pot. Boil, covered for 10 minutes. Drain.
2 Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and toast the walnuts. Stir frequently or they will burn. Once they they start to brown, and you can smell the aroma of toasted walnuts, remove from heat.
3 Melt the butter in the pan with the walnuts over medium-high heat. Toss the walnuts to coat with butter, then add the squash. Toss them to coat with butter.
4 Add the grated ginger, vanilla extract, black pepper, a little salt and dried thyme and toss once more. Turn off the heat and squeeze some lemon juice over everything. Taste for salt and lemon and add more to taste. If you want this to be a bit more luxurious, mix in another tablespoon of butter or two before serving. Serves 4.