Sometimes the best recipes are created when fixing a mistake! The beginnings of this recipe came from my cousin Dave Berry, who is one of those natural cooks who creates delicious recipes from scratch. When I was making his Butternut Squash Soup recipe to serve as the first course for a recent dinner party, I accidentally put in way too much chicken stock, and the result was a watery soup lacking in flavor. So, I needed “amp it up” a bit, and decided to layer in more flavor and also thicken the soup by adding roasted squash seasoned with curry and onion powder. I then decided a bit of apple would add a nice bit of sweetness. Based on the positive response of our dinner guests to whom I served it, my “fixes” were a success!
Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
(Serves 10 to 12)
4 1/2 pounds butternut squash, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped roasted pecans
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and seed the butternut squash; cut into 1-inch cubes. Put half of the squash in a large roasting pan and toss with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and the onion powder. Season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for around 25 to 35 minutes, or until very soft. Cool a bit then smash with a potato masher.
While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and rosemary and cook until the onion is soft. Add the remaining cubed (uncooked) squash, chicken stock, chopped apple and remaining 1 teaspoon curry powder. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for around 30 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. Stir in half and half; transfer to a blender and purée (or use an immersion blender). Stir in the smashed roasted squash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, garnished with around 1 teaspoon chopped pecans per serving.
Make ahead: Soup can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over medium heat until hot. (I actually think it tastes better if it sits for awhile.) Soup also freezes well.
The other night I had some butternut squash leftover from making the Roasted Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage dish in our cookbook, and decided to make the squash the star ingredient in a new salad recipe. I added some roasted mushrooms, nuts, feta cheese and shaved country ham, then tossed it all together with a light balsamic vinaigrette. Both Robert and I loved it – and I hope you do, too!
Note: this recipe was featured on Foodie Friends Friday linky party on August 31, 2012.
Roasted Mushroom and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and cubed (1/2-inch) butternut squash
2 cups quartered mushrooms (cremini, shitake or small portabellos work best)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, separated
2 tablespooons chopped walnuts or pecans
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup shredded ham, preferably country ham
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium roasting pan, using your hands toss together the squash, mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; toss again. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped nuts and continue roasting for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.
Place 1 cup of spinach on each of 4 individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, then the mushroom mixture, then the ham. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in a small skillet and warm over low heat. Drizzle over salad; season with salt and fresh ground pepper as needed.
Last March, my husband Robert and I attended a fun event raising money for the Denver Dumb Friends League, called Give PAWS. During the live auction, Robert bid on and won (well, actually drank a lot of wine, then started bidding and somehow won) a 5-course dinner with wine pairings for eight people, provided by Denver’s Gourmet Fine Catering. Last month, we finally cashed in our prize – and it was a truly memorable evening.
We invited 6 foodie friends to join us and enjoy our windfall. The evening started out with passed hors d’oeuvres (sorry, I forgot to take pictures of these – too busy eating all of these scrumptious items! – so you’ll have to use your imagination) paired with a yummy Mionetto Prosecco Brut:
Blackened Rare Ahi Tuna
on a crisp gaufrette with wasabi mayonnaise, soy syrup and pickled ginger
topped with wedged brie and spiced pear & apple chutney
Wild Mushroom and Boursin Corn Fritter
served with a sweet roasted corn and scallion crème friache dipping sauce
Braised Duck Confit on Zucchini Cake
served with sun-dried cherry chutney
It was impossible to pick a favorite – they were all perfectly prepared and oh sooo good!
Next we moved into the dining room . . .
. . . to the first of our five courses – a wonderfully light and flavorful Gourmet Wedge Salad that was paired with a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2011:
Wedge of bibb lettuce with candied pecans, sliced green apples and grape tomatoes, drizzled with a fall pear vinaigrette and garnished with herbed goat cheese medallions and bread sticks
Second course was a fabulous Butternut Squash Ravioli, paired with a Fess Parker Chardonnay 2011:
Hand-made winter butternut squash ravioli served with a vanilla bean-vin blanc garnished with toasted pine nuts, shaved grana cheese and chiffonade of fresh sage
Third course was Spanish Sea Bass paired with Chime Pinot Noir North Coast 2009:
Paprika and chive oiled seared sea bass garnished with a fresh cilantro pesto and roasted corn relish and served with marbled purple and gold mashed potatoes
Over halfway now, and everything has been over-the-top fabulous . . .
Fourth course was Petite Filet paired with Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon 2009:
Grilled beef tenderloin tournedos drizzle with a roasted shallot zinfandel demi glace and garnished with fingerling shoestring potatoes
And the finale – Chocolate Dipped Tiramisu paired with Robert Mondavi Masco D’oro 2007. Truly incredible – to die for – I dreamed about it, it was so fabulous!
Individual chocolate dipped tiramisu slice with creme anglaise, seasonal fresh beries and garnished with pulled sugar
Gourmet Fine Catering did an incredible job. Here is our wonderful chef for the evening, Bill:
Unfortunately the photo of our server, Sarah, didn’t come out – but she was great too! They did all of the work from beginning to end, including setting the table, providing all linens, dishware, glassware, cutlery, etc. – and, Robert’s favorite part, they cleaned it all up!
I would highly recommend Gourmet Fine Catering – we had no complaints, and all gave them a 10 out of 10!
For some, Thanksgiving is about grand parades, football or even annual 5K morning runs. But, for the Clayton family – it’s always been about the favorite foods that draw our family together. Like many, we celebrate with the traditional dishes, but through the years we’ve updated our favorites with new flavors, hints of spice and unexpected twists. The traditional sweet potato dish was the first to get a Thanksgiving meal makeover. While a sweet staple, you won’t find candied sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows on our table. We gave this dish a savory update by combining yams and butternut squash with sausage and cheddar cheese. Nutmeg and pecans give the dish a decidedly modern update.
This recipe has become a Clayton family Thanksgiving tradition, and has been adopted by many other homes that I have taken it to as part of a potluck dinner. We don’t like yam dishes that are too sweet and haven’t been able to find another recipe we like as much as this one. Another bonus? You can make it ahead and freeze it, reducing holiday stress.
Sausage, Butternut Squash and Yam Casserole Recipe
1 3/4 pounds yams, peeled and chopped
1 3/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onions (or more to taste)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 or 3-quart shallow baking or gratin dish.
Steam the yams and squash until tender enough to mash, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mash into large chunks, add the butter and nutmeg. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up. After 5 minutes (when the sausage is about half browned), add the green onions and sauté until the sausage is cooked through, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up into bits, about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat, strain off the fat and set aside.
Spread half the yam/squash mixture in the prepared baking dish, top with half the sausage and half the grated cheese. Repeat the layers, and top with the chopped nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is bubbly and the top is brown.
Make ahead: The casserole can be prepared earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated, or frozen for up to a month. Return to room temperature before baking.