Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Butternut Cube Fries

One of the things that deters me from buying whole butternut squash is the difficulty of cutting it (first), the yukkiness of scooping out and discarding the seeds and strings (second), scraping that stringy stuff away from the inner hollow (third) and lastly, the slicing or dicing of the hard squash itself (fourth). So when I spotted fresh pre-cut butternut squash at Costco last week, I bought two 2-pound bags. Some of it went into a soup I made last week, and the balance was made into butternut fries.

Normally, "fries" ought to be long wedges, but I had cubes. That didn't deter me one bit. I snooped around the internet a little bit and found a few recipes (I just did a google search for butternut squash fries). I kind of used my own imagination. Rachael Ray's online magazine had a recipe that used maple syrup and creme fraiche, plus lime juice plus some seasonings. I took ideas from the few recipes I did find, and here's what I did: I tossed the cubes with olive oil, and sprinkled them all over with a mixture of ground cumin, garlic salt and some mild chile powder (I used Chimayo). The squash went into a relatively hot oven (425) and baked for about 45-60 minutes. I thought they'd be done in about 40, so tasted it. Disappointment at that point. I'm SO glad I left them to bake another 10-15 minutes because they became succulent, a bit crispy on the outside edges, and those said edges had begun to caramelize with their own natural sugars. In that short time they became magic. Amazing how baking chemistry works. These are remarkably easy. If you prefer more sweetness to them, by all means sprinkle them with some brown sugar, or try maple syrup. But it's not needed, I assure you.

Butternut Squash Fries
3 pounds butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon mild chile powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Olive oil spray to coat pan
1. Preheat oven to 425. Prepare a large sheet pan and coat with olive oil spray or cooking spray.
2. Pile the squash cubes on the tray. Combine the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, then sprinkle it all over the squash. Using your hands, mix the squash so every cube has some herbs and is slick with olive oil. (You may want to add more olive oil than I did.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Bake for 45-55 minutes, testing the squash, removing it when the edges have begun to brown and crisp and the squash has begun to caramelize. You'll notice a sweet taste to it, even though there is no sugar in the recipe. Serve while they're hot, and add more salt just before eating.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 103 Calories; 4g Fat (31.3% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 18mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.
To view a PDF recipe only, click title at top.

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