Embellishing Squash

Thanksgiving is zooming up on us here in Maine, and since I imagine it’s doing the same everywhere else in the country, I thought I’d share a flavor combination that I experimented with yesterday.

Squash, specifically buttercup/winter squash, is a Thanksgiving staple around here (is it everywhere else?), and it has always been a favorite of mine. My mom steams it and adds a pat of butter and some salt and BLAMMO, it is “perfection.” My sister makes a squash gratin that is to die for, pictured here, which has recently become a more embellished and just as tasty version of this Thanksgiving classic.

But then this book came along and I decided to mess with a good thing just to see what would happen.

The Flavor Bible

The Flavor Bible

Inspired by reading the first two chapters of this book (before it gets to the extensive alphabetized list of ingredients and things that go well with them), I grabbed a few things at the grocery store and got to work. Nothing will get you more excited about cooking and trying out new flavor combinations than this book. I suspect it would make an excellent gift this holiday season for the chefs in your lives : )

It's hard to photograph a substance that looks like dog puke so that it doesn't look like dog puke. But I promise it tastes far better than it looks.

It’s hard to photograph a substance that looks like dog puke so that it doesn’t look like dog puke. But I promise it tastes far better than it looks.

Goat Cheese and Sage Buttercup Squash

What you’ll need:

1 buttercup squash (also goes by winter squash, and is usually available from local farmers this time of year)

2 oz plain goat cheese

5 leaves sage, chopped

Salt to taste (you really won’t need much)

A steamer in a pot

Way-too-Explicit Directions:

1. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Flip each half over and cut the skin off with a very sharp knife. You can also try using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, but I find the old brute-force method works best with these beasties.

2. Cut the squash into (roughly) 2″ cubes and put the cubes into the pot with the steamer, fill with water until water comes to just below the bottom of the steamer, and cover the pot. Boil the water and steam for about 5-10 minutes. Test with a fork — if the largest piece you test falls apart, it’s done.

3. Pour the water out of the pot, using the lid to keep the squash from falling out, and then remove the steamer. You could also put the squash in another container, but I don’t like to dirty more dishes than I have to. Mix in the goat cheese and sage until you can’t see any swirls of goat cheese anymore. Taste and salt if needed.

4. Serve to friends and family and have a jolly Thanksgiving!

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