Fall is here – and that means Squash!
September 26, 2011
My husband and I always feel a bit like we’ve squandered the summer when fall rolls around. But it’s so nice to have cooler temperatures, and I absolutely love fall leaves. In autumn, every time I’m outside, I’m constantly gawking at gorgeous trees – anything that’s red or orange. Even though summer is over, the local produce keeps coming in early fall as well. According to the Colorado crop calendar, the first half of October will still bring apples, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chile peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, herbs, lettuce, and onions, among others. But the most exciting thing for me is that winter squash become abundant (although wouldn’t fall squash be a more appropriate moniker?). While I love zucchini, crookneck and pattypan squash, in the past couple of years, I have discovered how much I adore winter squash. Delicata squash is pretty close to the ultimate in my opinion. It doesn’t have an overwhelming taste or smell, like acorn squash (which I love, too – but it took a while before I appreciated it). Instead it’s got a really smooth taste – rich but not heavy. And you can even eat the skin, unlike with most winter squash. I generally just cut delicata up and steam it. No fancier preparation needed. I think I was buying one of them a week last year. But there are other great winter squash as well – sweet dumpling, butternut, spaghetti squash, and quite a few that I haven’t tried, but look forward to.
There are an endless number of ways to use winter squash. A couple of weekends ago, I bought seven ears of corn from Munson Farms at the Farmers’ Market, so I had quite a few corn dishes to make. I have a recipe I’ve made for years from Cooking Light which uses potatoes, black beans, corn, celery and onion with chipotle pepper and lime. I’ve been substituting sweet potatoes in for years, so in keeping with the fallish theme, I decided to use a butternut squash instead of potatoes, just for something different. And instead of using a chipotle in adobo sauce and a jalepeno, I used several different dried spices. (It was a busy week, so I opted not to grind fresh spices for this dish. I also used canned beans instead of dried beans). Two of the spices I used are from Savory Spice Shop in Boulder – Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika, and Lodo Red Adobo chile powder. You can use whatever chile powder or paprika you’d like if you don’t have these two. I also used up the last bit of my precious Miguel and Valentino smoked olive oil (placed an order for more, so it’s on the way), but you can use regular olive oil.
It takes some moxie to peel and chop a butternut squash. And the one that I bought was a beast of colossal proportions. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it is tough to peel a butternut squash, and it’s a very dense squash, so you need to be careful when cutting it. The one I got really was huge, so I ended up using only about 2/3 of it for this dish, and ate the rest for lunch the next two days.
I was very pleased with how this turned out. The texture of butternut squash is really reminiscent of potatoes, so as long as the dish you are making can handle a bit of sweetness, I think you can substitute it for potatoes with great success.
Southwestern Butternut Squash, Black Beans, Corn, Onion and Peppers
Adapted from Southwestern Potato Salad, Cooking Light
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into ~ 1/3″ cubes
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 ears sweet corn
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-14.5 oz can black beans
2 tsp smoked olive oil
1-2 tsp vegetable broth, as needed
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp ground lobo red adobo
1/2 to 1 tsp ground hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
15 shakes liquid smoke
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
Cook the corn by boiling in water either on the stove or in the microwave, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool, and then cut the kernels off and set aside. Steam the butternut squash until tender, drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil on medium heat, then saute the garlic, onions, and red pepper until the onions start to become translucent. Add the celery and cook for several more minutes. (If the dish seems too dry at any time, add a tsp or so of broth). Add the squash, corn, beans, spices, liquid smoke and salt and cook until heated through. Adjust spices to taste and top with chopped cilantro.