Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Squash Fries

Now that the snow looks to be taking up residence around here, we are officially wrapping up our season of growing vegetables. The greenhouse has gone to sleep for the winter (we don’t heat it until the seedlings start to grow in the early spring). The potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts and squash are all tucked away aiming to give our family a winter’s worth of nutrition. There may be a handful of squash deliveries yet to make to restaurants and stores but that would be about all.

As Christmas approaches, I wanted to share one of my favourite dishes. It happens to go over well with the liluns too, which is always a bonus for me. Squash fries. As potato beetles are a-plenty around here it is always uncertain whether we will see a potato crop. We have been creative over the years with our bounty of squash and come up with this easy delight.

First, cut open the squash (I use Acorn, Butternut, Celebration or one of the other velvety, not mealy ones). Scoop out the seeds with an ice cream scoop and place face down on a baking sheet. Turn the oven on at 350F and leave them in there for approximately 15-20 minutes. They should still be firm put slightly softened by this effort, thereby easier to work with. Turn the oven off and let the squash cool before handling. You may want to remove them from the oven if your oven heats up quickly.

Cut the squash into slivers about 2 inches wide at the widest part. Peel off the skin being careful to keep the form of the flesh. Now cube the orange fleshy part into 1-2 inch cubes. Similar sized cubes would be desirable for consistent baking times.

Alternatively, you can peel the squash when it is raw (this can be tricky depending on whether the skin is tough or not – sometimes a potato peeler is an option). Then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and cut into cubes. You can throw these cubes in the freezer for another day which is what I have done.

Raw Butternut Squash Cubes Ready for the Freezer

Our family Christmas gatherings are often potluck and this makes an excellent dish to bring and blast with heat once at your destination.

When you’re ready to make the fries, distribute olive oil or pats of butter around a baking sheet. I have no fear of butter and use a good ½ cup over a large cookie pan. Place in a preheated oven on the middle rack at around 400F. Once you can lift the cube from the pan with a spatula, turn the lot of them over to brown the other side after around 20 minutes. They are ready when the edges start to brown slightly and the fat layer in the pan is sizzling like a deep fryer.

Try not to overcook these or they will turn to mush. The key is to get a crispy outside, and a softened inside all the while holding a shape.

If you are blessed with loved ones around you and food to eat, here’s wishing you a wonderful season of baking, eating and visiting.

1 comment:

  1. yum...always wondered how to get squash fries to go crispy rather than mushy...thanks!


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