Because Life with Kids is Sticky...Very Sticky

Lucy Mercer

Lucy Mercer
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
December 31
I cook, I write, I carpool. You may also find my words at A Cook and Her Books. Email acookandherbooks@gmail.com. Thanks for visiting!


Lucy Mercer's Links

No links in this category.
OCTOBER 31, 2010 5:41PM

A minimalist approach to butternut squash

Rate: 11 Flag

Mark Bittman is a food writer with a fresh approach. I happen to love his easygoing attitude towards recipes in the New York Times Minimalist column. Bittman's minimalist approach can refer to using few techniques and few ingredients, but it mostly (to me, anyway), means he assumes his readers know their way around a kitchen, probably own a cookbook or two and can translate his concise, shorthand instructions into delicious food.

In considering butternut squash this week, I decided to take a minimalist approach to one of my favorite autumn vegetables. Butternut squash is pretty much the package - good taste, good nutrition, and good looks (once you crack open the beast and reveal the amber-gold flesh within). I selected a large squash at the supermarket and made two recipes - soup and salad.

Peeling a butternut squash can be daunting, but with patience, a solid cutting board, a vegetable peeler, and a sharp, sturdy chef's knife, it can be easily handled. Begin by cutting the vegetable in half across the width, just above the bulbous end. With the long narrow end, cut it in half lengthwise, then using a vegetable peeler (I find a "Y" peeler to be most useful here), peel off the tough outer layer. With the bottom, rounded end of the squash, do the same - cutting in half through the length, scraping out the seeds and fibers with a spoon or your fingers, then peeling each piece of squash flesh. The top half of the vegetable will be cubed and cooked with onions and chicken broth for a savory soup and the remainder of the squash will be roasted with olive oil, butter and salt and tossed with salad ingredients.

My Minimalist Butternut Squash Soup: half of an onion, chopped; sauteed in butter; add cubed squash, chicken broth, a bay leaf, some sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until squash is softened, then puree in processor or blender. Some might add chopped apple to the saute, in fact, I've heard tell that's the secret to the very best butternut squash soup. Some might garnish with bacon, but I like a sprig of thyme, and maybe buttery croutons if I have them on hand.

My Minimalist take on Butternut Squash Salad: Cooked brown rice tossed with torn baby spinach, roasted cubes of butternut squash, a generous squeeze of lemon juice, glug of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. (To roast squash: cubed butternut squash, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roasted in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.)

One squash, two tasty dishes, lunches for three days or more, with a minimum of fuss.
Text & images © 2010, Lucy Mercer.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
You know I do not care for squash.. But I would eat this in a second.
Rated with hugs

I will try out this week.


You can save a step and cook it in the skin.
Just cut in half lengthwise, cook it (oven, pressure cooker or even microwave) when done, just scoop out the flesh.

These look wonderful, Lucy. -r-
Mark Bittman is one of my favorites, as is butternut squash. You're right, some ingredients don't need to be tarted up much.
I also adore Mark Bittman's ideas. The salad looks lovely. We often eat squash in hearty, sweetened dishes, and this fresh take is a nice break from the stews of the season.
Oh, Lucy, beautiful ideas. A large butternut goes a long way giving so many tasty dishes. Try the salad with quinoa next time, I think you'll like it. Roasted squash is wonderful on its own just with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Hurray for minimalism.
Lovely, Lucy. I make a very similar soup (I do add the apple) and serve it in teacups or mugs. My boys call it "sipping soup" and thoroughly enjoy sipping it down, having no idea they're consuming vegetables. :) The salad sounds amazing. I have a butternut hanging around my kitchen right now, so this may be it for lunch or a simple dinner one day this week.
Gorgeous, Lucy! I am a longtime fan of Mark Bittman, too. You sure had a lot of ideas of what to do with butternut squash-- one of my favorite foods.
My wife is a huge fan of butternut squash. I am going to make this salad for her this week. Rated.
I embrace minimalism--my favorite squash soup recipe has four ingredients. BUT I also subscribe to Shirley Corriher's theory of wretched excess. :) Rated
We had the butternut squash salad today. It's also delicious heated up. Thanks!