For general tips on cooking winter squash see here.
Butternut Squash Soup
You can make soup with any of the winter squash family but the amount of liquid required will vary depending on how wet or dry the flesh is. I most often make this soup with leftover roasted squash, although you can of course start from scratch. Spices are optional, but I like a bit of heat from chillies and the flavour of cumin and nutmeg. I have become particularly fond of the umami provided by black garlic in vegetable dishes and it goes especially well with the sweetness of squash. However it does make the colour of the whole soup rather dark so leave it out if this bothers you.
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of black garlic, chopped
Spices (salt, pepper, cumin, nutmeg and chilli)
1lb diced squash (pre-roasted or raw)
Approx 1½ pint of hot chicken or vegetable stock
Pumpkin seeds cooked in butter to garnish
Fry the chopped onion in olive oil together with whichever spices you are using. Add the diced squash and turn until coated with spices. Now add hot stock to cover and simmer. If the pumpkin is raw you will need to simmer until softened, but with ready cooked squash 10 minutes is enough to combine flavours.
Blend with a stick blender or liquidise adding more stock and seasoning as required.
Serve garnished with roasted or fried pumpkin seeds.
This is my absolute favourite way of eating squash. I have already said that I do not like squash in dessert dishes, but could in fact imagine eating this as a dessert – perhaps with the sweetness enhanced with honey.
400g fresh pasta
250g roasted pumpkin purée (Crown Prince for preference, or try a mixture of butternut squash and sweet potato)
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
50g ground almonds
2 tablespoons finely chopped Mostarda (Italian pickled fruits)
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Melted butter and sage or rosemary
Scattering of chopped walnuts
Roast slices of pumpkin until soft and then purée. Mix with the remaining filling ingredients.
Roll the pasta into thin sheets. Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture at intervals along the dough, leaving a finger’s width between each. Use your finger to lightly wet around each mound of filling then lay a second sheet of pasta on top. Seal the pasta using the cupped side of your hand and ensuring that no air is trapped inside the parcel. Cut around to form individual ravioli. Press the edges again firmly to seal.
Cook half a dozen ravioli at a time in rapidly boiling salted water. As soon as they rise to the surface remove from the water with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a dish containing butter, which has been melted with chopped sage or rosemary.
Grate a little more nutmeg over before serving and scatter with chopped walnuts.
Gnocchi di Zucca
These gnocchi are a traditional speciality of the Veneto and southern Lombardy. Marina di Chioggia would be the best variety to use but Crown Prince is a reasonable substitute or a mixture of butternut squash and sweet potato comes close to the spicy sweetness and texture of a northern Italian pumpkin. In the Veneto these gnocchi are dressed with butter, parmesan, sugar and cinnamon. This shows the Venetian sweet-savoury blend also evident in the ravioli recipe above. In Lombardy and elsewhere is they are dressed with butter, parmesan and sage. This is the dressing I have used here.
2.5 kg/5 lb squash
500g/18 oz OO grade flour
5 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs
140g/5 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
generous grating of nutmeg
175g/6 oz unsalted butter
15 sage leaves, snipped
140g/5 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Roast the squash (and sweet potatoes if using a mix). Remove the flesh from the skins and purée both vegetables.
Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt and then break in the eggs. Mix to ensure they are thoroughly incorporated before adding the Parmesan and seasoning to taste with salt and nutmeg.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. You can then either shape small balls of gnocchi with your floured hands or use a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. If using a piping bag it is easy to pipe directly over the boiling water, cutting of lengths about 2cm/¾” long. Don’t cook too many gnocchi at once, they will take only a minute or two to rise to the surface, when they should be lifted out with a slotted spoon and placed in a large shallow ovenproof dish kept in a low oven.
For the dressing heat the butter with the sage until it begins to foam, pour over the gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Gratin of Butternut Squash
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeds removed
1 pint double cream
a good handful of fresh thyme leaves
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsps fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Thinly slice the butternut squash and lay the slices in a buttered ovenproof serving dish. Heat the cream to just below boiling point then add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and half the Parmesan. Pour over the squash and then sprinkle the rest of the parmesan and breadcrumbs over the top.
Bake at 170°C/Gas Mark 4 for about an hour.
Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
This recipe for using squash as a spaghetti replacement comes from Annie Levy of kitchencounterculture.co.uk who says…
I love this winter squash variety, which is not easy to find in Britain. I love its light, earthy, yet watery flavour in the form of its famous shape and texture: that of spaghetti. When you’ve lightly steamed or baked it, and take tines of a fork, from perimeter to its opposite point, gently dragging, as if raking or combing delicate hair, long strands spiral in a pile of your plate, similar to spaghetti, hence its name, even if it’s closer to Angel Hair in its stringy skinny glory. Spaghetti Squash is receptive and flexible to strong flavours and welcomes chilli flakes. Tonight my husband had made a Spag Bol sauce for our family, a dish our children love, and which they prefer from him. He makes it meaty and dense, whereas I might even omit meat and revel in tomatoey brown lentils with grated beetroot with that iron back taste of blood and rosemary and of course lots of garlic.
Squash variation on Apple Dessert
You can also read Annie’s squash variation on an apple dessert here: