The Yankee Chef: Butternut squash two ways

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With the fall season almost here, winter squash varieties line the produce shelves, and farmers markets and farm stands. The skin is hard and inedible, while the inside is firm and flavorful. Because of their tough outer shell they keep well for long periods of time.

Butternut squash is a very popular winter squash variety. It belongs to a species known as C. moschata., a group of squash that also includes the Winter Crookneck, the Cushawsome, and some varieties of pumpkin. Archaeological evidence suggests that squash may have first been cultivated on the isthmus between North America and South America (known as Mesoamerica) around 10,000 years ago. Squash was one of the three main crops planted by Native Americans, known as the "Three Sisters" — corn, beans and squash.The most popular and widely available butternut squash is the Waltham Butternut, which was originally cultivated in Massachusetts.

Butternut squash is extremely versatile. It can be roasted, saut ed, toasted, pur ed for soups, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins.



Fresh butternut salad with cranberry citrus vinaigrette

Fresh butternut salad with cranberry citrus vinaigrette is one of those "salads" that tastes and satisfies as a hearty side dish. Wonderful flavor, filling without feeling guilty and perfectly suited for all times of year. Just a hint of protein is all this recipe needs to accomplish all this and more.

INGREDIENTS:

1 small butternut squash (about a pound)

2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

1/2 cup crushed walnuts, pecans or your favorite nut

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese(about a half cup)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette, recipe below

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise. Using a vegetable peeler, or mandolin if you have one, create long, thin ribbons of squash. Place ribbons in a large bowl. Cut sliced prosciutto into 2-inch segments and add to squash along with remainder of ingredients. Toss well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving drizzled with Cranberry Citrus Vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette: Place 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup cranberry juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a blender or food processor and process until completely emulsified.

Enough for 3 servings.



Japanese sweet slaw

Japanese Sweet Slaw is a gorgeous blend of colorful cabbage, carrots and squash and mixed into the tastiest blend of flavors you can add to coleslaw. A must-serve at that final get together of the summer.

INGREDIENTS:

1(16-ounce)package shredded coleslaw mix

1/2 small butternut squash(about a pound)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon each lime juice and apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil or garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the neck of the squash from the bulb, saving the bulb for another use. Peel the neck portion and cut in half lengthwise, using only one half of the neck and keeping other half for another time.

Slice squash into thin "half moons" and then cut them into matchsticks. Add squash to coleslaw mix in a large bowl and set aside.

Put remainder of ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or into a blender and puree on high until well blended. Pour into coleslaw and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Enough for 4-6 sides


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