Butternut squash is the most boring of the winter squashes, but it’s usually inexpensive, easy to find, and it blends into a sweet and creamy puree that lends itself to all sorts of good dishes. I think of butternut squash puree more as an ingredient than a recipe, and when there are big piles of the vegetable on sale at the supermarket or farmers’ market, I buy enough to fill my freezer with this puree. Later I can defrost a container to make Butternut Squash Lasagna ( this page) or Butternut Squash Custard with Bourbon Pecans (this page). If you know you’ll be using your puree for savory dishes, use the garlic and sage to infuse the squash as it roasts, but if you want to use it for the custard, keep it more neutral. You can also prepare the butternut squash in the pressure cooker. Seed the squash, cut it into pieces small enough to fit in your cooker, and cook under high pressure with a bit of water for 15 minutes. This is also a great method for making pumpkin puree. Cut pumpkins in half or quarters, and proceed as below, roasting them at 350°F.
- Yield: 8 to 10 Cups
- Neutral oil, such as grapeseed
- 7 pounds butternut squash (2 to 3 squash)
- Optional: 1 head of garlic, separated into peeled cloves; 10 fresh sage leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease two large baking dishes or rimmed baking sheets with oil.
- Cut each squash in half lenghtwise by setting it upright on your counter and cutting straight down. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon the composting or set them aside for roasting. Lay each half cut-side down on the prepared baking dish, and, if you're using the garlic and sage, lift each squash half up to tuck a few garlic cloves and sage leaves into the cavity.
- Roast the squash until the skin bubbles and wrinkles and the meat is very soft, 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Remove them from the oven, turn them over away from you to release the steam, and let the squash cool for at least 30 minutes. Using a small knife or spoon, separate the squash pulp from the skin, and discard the skin and sage, if using. Throw the pulp and the garlic, if using, into a food processor. Working in batches, puree the pulp until smooth. Alternatively, you can mash by hand, adding a bit of water if necessary to help soften the puree. To freeze, transfer the puree to 2-cup freezer-safe containers or bags, and store in the freezer. To use, defrost in the refrigerator.