I’m going to take a different approach today by splitting a recipe into two posts. Why, you ask? The “good blog host” answer could include: a) there’s a lot going on in this recipe, b) I took a lot of helpful pictures and didn’t want to bog down one post with all of them, or c) since there’s a lot of prep time to this particular recipe, it’s almost better if you do half of it in advance and the other half when you’re ready to serve it.
While all of these answers are indeed valid, and I’m particularly fond of Answer C, the real answer is entirely different. Tuesday (last) night is a very good TV night this season, for me at least, and I didn’t feel like going to the store to get the lasagna noodles in the middle of Bones. So there, my dirty little secret is out.
Laziness aside, this two part approach is a great idea since the preparations for the squash and the leeks in this recipe are indeed time consuming (but easy!) and not really a good fit for a school night dinner. They are also versatile enough to lend themselves to other recipes besides what I’ve got in mind for them this time around. Knowing how to roast up some butternut squash and caramelize some leeks is a good starting point for any number of autumn recipes.
Tomorrow I’ll show you how to make the squash into a sauce and how to use the leeks to create a free-form lasagna with herbed goat cheese. Dying with anticipation? Me too — I’m already smackin’ my lips just thinking about dinner tonight! So let’s get started so we can get finished.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Roasting squash of any kind is a good way to draw out the natural sugars and lend a subtle smokiness to the final dish.
1 large butternut squash
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t. freshly grated cinnamon
pinch of sea salt & pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking tray with foil.
Using a large sharp knife, begin by cutting off the ends of the squash and then cutting it in half, right where the neck starts to bubble out into the body. Stand it up on end and peel the skin off with the knife (see photo above). Once both halves are peeled, split each in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out of the bottom half. Don’t worry too much about removing the stringy membranes…they’ll just roast off in the oven.
Cut squash into one inch cubes and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Using a microplane, grate fresh nutmeg and cinnamon over squash cubes and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss again and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes or until very soft and browning on the edges.
Remove from oven and allow to cool some on the sheet before placing in a air-tight container. Place in fridge until ready to use. Will keep for up to three days.
*You can also boil or bake squash. To boil, follow the same preparation instructions above but put into a pot with just enough water to cover and boil for 20 minutes until tender. To bake squash, cut it in half lengthwise, leave the skin on, and place face down in a baking pan with about an inch of water. Bake at 400 for about 30-40 minutes until tender.
(makes about 2 cups)
4 medium-sized leeks
1 T. butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
generous pinch of coarse salt
1 t. sugar (raw natural sugar preferred)
Cut off root ends of leeks and trim off the dark green leaves (but not the lighter green portion). Slice leeks in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. If leeks look sandy or gritty, submerge slices in cool water and swish around before letting stand for a minute or two. Remove from water and pat dry.
In a heavy skillet, heat oil and butter over medium high heat. Place leeks in skillet and toss quickly to coat. Turn heat down to low and sprinkle leeks with salt and sugar. Allow to cook over the low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are cooked down, soft and browned. This process will take about 45-50 minutes.
When leeks are caramelized, remove from heat and allow to cool before placing in an air-tight container and storing in the fridge until needed. These will also keep for about three days.
(makes about 2 cups)