Butternut Squash and Gouda Cream Sauce!

Remember, long long ago, when my sister made me Sister’s Gouda and Butternut Squash Casserole? Well, I finally tried making something similar but with ingredients from my beloved garden and my nearly-as-beloved Aldi.

I found some “Applewood smoked” gouda at Aldi and I had the last sad little squashes left from the summer, so I thought it time to try this so that Husband could see what a delightful combo it was. I bought “herb chicken” tortellini because 1. I’m lazy and do not make my own pasta (yet?) and 2. because husband loves a little protein in his pasta dishes. I set slivers of butternut squash in the GoSun for a sunny hour in the backyard, and they emerged soft and perfect.

The sauce starts with a roux, about a tablespoon of butter and nearly two tablespoons of flour (for me – do your favorite roux!) and then a generous pour of whole milk. More traditionalists should definitely follow a recipe for bechamel, and then grate some of that gouda goodness in. The gouda thickened the sauce wonderfully; I added Italian seasoning, basil, and oregano, and then mashed the butternut squash thoroughly before adding about 1 and a half cups of it. I wanted the sauce to be heavily squash-y, so you could always use less, but I wanted to feel like a veggie.

I boiled the tortellini as instructed and poured that sauce over; leftover gouda (I had about half of the round left) went on top of salads and into a 4-cheese tomato sauce I made later for the rest of the tortellini. I would not call this a health food, but it’s a wonderful flavor combination if you are bored with traditional alfredo, and it reminded me of good times shovelling pasta into my maw with my sister this summer; now it feels more seasonal with the autumnal chill in the air!

The Return of Pumpkin Spice: Squash Scones/Cookies

Sometimes, the way I choose my cooking plans is crazy. For instance, when I type “pumpkin cookie shortening” into google because 1. no one makes cookies out of butternut squash and 2. I am running low on inspiration for what to make out of all this squash and 3. somehow I am out of butter AND vegetable oil in my house. Sigh. I’m a mess.

But the internet rewarded me, in the form of this recipe – http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10671/pumpkin-cookies-iii/. It has a cute backstory about a simpler time, and with a couple substitutions (adding chocolate chips, swapping pumpkin puree for mashed roasted butternut squash), the cookies were all set to go.

I made them a little haphazardly big, and because they are so fluffy and cake-y when they come out, they remind me of scones. Everyone has some cookie memories, but I have some lovely scone memories: it was one of the first things I baked all by myself, and I loved the fact that the dough was almost savory and the chocolate chips I put in them made them into a sweet treat. My sister and mother and I once shared a wonderful afternoon at a tea room drinking herbal teas and eating scones with lemon curd… it’s just one of those simple-pleasure foods, something that isn’t necessary but is rather delightful.

So these cookies/scones came with me to a little backyard campfire across town that we attended over the weekend, and they have been my quick go-to breakfast for days, and they seem inexhaustible… much like the squash from which they came, I guess. Still, if you want a treat that reminds you that fall is coming, but don’t quite want to break out the pumpkin puree yet, this is a pretty great way to get your veggies; Vitamin A and C in a cookie!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup… Because the Squash doesn’t end.

I know stories of bounty, of how zucchini plants take over gardens and the owners become desperate zucchini gifters… but this is the first time I’ve experienced it. I swear, butternut squash is the most beautiful veggie in the world until it is all just sitting there in front of you, 20 pounds of it, and you have no idea what to do with it all!

Well, one thing you do is roast it and put it in soup. Duh.

I was inspired by this recipe by blogger How Sweet Eats, but because husband cannot do coconut anything, I subbed in chicken stock for most of the coconut-y things (I had some on hand, it’s also got a depth of flavor, and it added a bit of richness to an otherwise thin soup). In the past, making butternut squash soup made me feel so wholesome – like I was really taking care of myself and anyone who shared the soup. This was no different; and this time, I really brought a lot of curry flavor to bear, compared to a few sprinkles as a garnish in the past. It goes so well with the sweet veggie.

This soup is totally divine when pureed, but I was making it on a night that I was utterly exhausted and I also was rebelling: butternut squash does puree up really nice, but it’s tasty with chunks too. So I lazily took a potato masher to the larger bits of this soup, and once everything was comfortably bite size or smaller, I just let it simmer till I was ready to eat. There is so much vitamin A and C in soup, you can just feel it fortifying you when you’ve got long night shifts or just a general lack of sleep.

You haven’t seen the last of the butternut squash recipes, but this is definitely up there among the tastiest!

Basil/Oregano Mashed Butternut Squash

I’ve become a big fan of dips – give me a variety pack of hummus flavors, or a savory baba ganoush, or a pile of guacamole any day and I’ll lay into it. I wasn’t expecting that butternut squash would make such a fantastic dip, though; rather than a recipe, today I present something I affectionately call a “mess-cipe” – something that easily could have turned out terribly as an experiment in the kitchen but which instead turned out delicious!

I was eager to roast up the butternut squash, so I added basil, oregano, and some last sprigs of rosemary that I had handy but after it finished cooking I kinda… left it in the oven to cool? I went about my afternoon, busy, and then came back to cooled-off, gooey squash. It was easy to separate the chunks from their skin, but then I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. My thought was “Pasta sauce,” along the lines of some you might have seen used on “butternut squash mac and cheese.”

I didn’t have a lot of cheese available, but I added cheese and milk, and used the food processor to mix it up. I made Husband a bowl of pasta and covered it in the sauce, which he vouched was sweet but flavorful, a perfectly fine dinner. What I noticed, though, was that since it was all fairly cool, it was really firmer than a sauce… more like a dip.

Instead of serving myself pasta, I dug a tortilla chip into the mixture, and crunched into it… PERFECT. While not a normal dip for tortilla chips, the mixture was too smooth for me to want it on something else soft like pasta, so I got the satisfying crunch and also the yummy flavor of butternut squash. I cannot give you exact measurements, but I definitely recommend that you try something like “mashed butternut squash” and have chips or crackers with it – the flavor is unusual but the texture is perfect for a dip.