Test Kitchen: Butternut Squash

Monday, October 29, 2012
Recipe: Butternut Squash, Braised and Glazed
Source: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (cookbook)

My boss is part of a CSA at the farmer's market near my apartment, and when she found herself overloaded with butternut squash, she gave me a few.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a good source for jumping off from one basic ingredient, and I found a promising experiment with this recipe. I already had all the other ingredients on hand to attempt the Asian-style variation they suggested, which employs soy sauce and ginger (I mean, I don't have any ginger root, but figured I could make do with ground). The cookbook reported that this recipe should take about half an hour, plenty of time to get done and settled before Parks & Rec.

What dirty, dirty liars they are. If these squash (and the garlic) had started off pre-peeled and pre-chopped, perhaps it would have taken those thirty minutes. Instead, it took that much time just to prep the ingredients.

Once everything was peeled and chopped, I started by heating olive oil, garlic, and the ginger in my Dutch oven. Any excuse to use my beloved Dutch oven is welcome. The recipe suggested 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, but given that I was working with three large squash - and tend to like things on the garlicky side anyway - I went ahead and used the whole head, totaling about 2.5 tablespoons. The ginger was an approximation, too; I put in about a teaspoon or so.

Then it's just a matter of adding the squash, seasoning with salt, pepper, and soy sauce, then cooking until the liquids have infused themselves into the vegetables. It was a lot of stirring and heat variations and so on, but overall, not a terribly labor-intensive process. The prep work was far more demanding than the cooking. Once the squash was almost done, I took the recipe's suggestion to garnish with sesame seeds, since I don't have occasion to use them that often.

All in all, it took about two hours to turn out what wound up being a serviceable side dish. It was a little too peppery, but that's my own fault. I ate the squash by itself that night, but it doesn't really work on its own. Over the weekend, I used it up for lunches, and greatly improved it by tossing some sauteed andouille on top.

This recipe was fun to experiment with, and it was a good way to use up the ingredients I had on hand, but given what I got out of the time I had to put into it, I doubt I'll make this one again.