Butternut Squash and Pumpkins

This year we had a really nice crop of butternut squash and pie pumpkins. We picked them all before the frost, and they have been curing for the last ten days or so by the heat: 

This is a warm, dry spot, which helps the skins of the squash dry out so they are good and tough. Tough skins, in turn, will help them last through the winter in storage. Today we moved them down into the basement, which is cool and dark. We spread them out on a table, making sure they weren't touching each other. The space helps with air circulation and will slow the spread of any rot just in case one goes bad early.

Not every one of our butternuts was storage-worthy, though. Four or five of them didn't have their stems intact, which means they are more susceptible to rot in storage because of the breach in the skin where the stem should be. The ones without stems stayed up in the kitchen, where we would be reminded to eat them up quickly.

One super-easy way to prepare butternut squash is to mash it:

First, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and stringy part. Roast it face-down on a baking sheet (which can be drizzled with olive oil) in a 425 degree oven for about a half hour. The skin will blister and bubble up, which makes it easy to peel (as soon as the squash cools enough not to burn your fingerprints off, that is). You'll know it's done when it's soft enough to cut through with a butter knife. 

Once the squash is peeled, just mash it up with a pat of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. That's all you need, although it's also good with hearty fall herbs like thyme, winter savory, sage, and rosemary for variety.

We had our butternut as a side dish with roasted chicken. Our second vegetable is another squash — our very last zucchini. Kirk sautéed slices of the summer squash in olive oil with garlic and our last Ukrainian yellow tomatoes, plus a little thyme, salt, and pepper. The result was a golden tomato sauce that was a nice, acidic counterpoint to the sweet and creamy butternut. 

It's pretty rare to have summer and winter squash on the same plate, but it was tasty! We won't have another shot at that particular flavor combo until this time next year. From here on out, it's all butternut and pumpkin, potatoes sweet and starchy.


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