Grate That Butternut; Make Fresh Winter Salad

Peeled Elmwood Stock Farm Butternut Squash

Peeled Elmwood Stock Farm Butternut Squash

As a friend and I said to each other last weekend at the Lexington Farmers Market, the butternut squashes and beautiful kales and other winter vegetables have accomplished what we never expected: we've forgotten about the glories of fresh summer sweet corn and dead-ripe tomatoes. I have had a butternut fixation this fall. The quickly sautéed ribbons brought a lot of delight.

Friends at Gourmandistan danced to the same orange muse, offering photos and a recipe for a luscious Halloween Winter Squash Panade. Then a neighbor brought a wondrous savory roast acorn squash dish to Cornbread Supper, and made it sound so easy that each of the next two days, I prepared a butternut squash according to her approach:

Cut into pieces about 3/4" thick. Remove seeds. Rub on a light coat of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast uncovered until tender. (I used a 400 degree oven once and 375 once -- both successfully.) Drizzle a little freshly made lime (or lemon) vinaigrette over the roast squash, and sprinkle with a little crunchy salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Try eating the skin. On most squashes it is soft and delicious. Wonderful as a reheated or room temp leftover.

New York Times food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman brings the most recent surprise: Raw Butternut Squash Salad with Raisins and Ginger: Peel, grate, dress very lightly, eat. The story includes a link to a video, useful for new cooks. Bittman also recently published a recipe for Raw Butternut Salad with Cranberry Dressing.

This time of year often sends me into New Recipe Overload, which I fix by pulling out my hand-written cards containing gold standards like Mrs. Moore's Incredibly Tender Dinner Rolls. If you do NOT suffer from NRO, Washington Post staff writer Bonnie Benwick recently put together one of the most intriguing collections of Thanksgiving recipes [free registration required] I have seen this year. Benwick highlights foods from all of the Americas: north, central, and south.

All of which leads me to offer a Thanksgiving wish: that you savor everything about the day and the meal, with its spicy, embracing warmth. One special note: If you use fresh garlic in your dinner or in your house at other times, offer particular thanks for those who may be out in the cold fields planting next year's crop as you are cooking.

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