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Friday, October 26, 2012

Warm Fall Squash Dip—Different and Delicious

Back in the 1990s while working on First Impressions, a book of appetizers, I created a recipe for a warm fall squash dip served with sliced apples and sautéed sausages. The main ingredients in that simple recipe were pureed acorn squash, curry powder, and sour cream. For years, I served this colorful starter when autumn arrived, but then somehow the dish fell off my radar screen—until this year when I decided to give the recipe a facelift. 

For my 21st century version I roasted and pureed cubed butternut squash, and seasoned it not only with curry powder, but with rosemary and thyme as well. And, in place of sour cream, I substituted crème fraiche, which has a more complex flavor.

You can make this delicious dip two days ahead and reheat it, and you can vary the garnishes. Along with apple, include pear slices too. I love kielbasa, but other cooked sausages can be sautéed and substituted. I also added some grilled peasant bread to the platter. It’s always fun to reinvent the wheel—or at least touch it up!

Warm Butternut Squash Dip with Apples, Sausage, and Grilled Bread

3 tablespoons olive oil plus more if needed
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice, or 2 1/2 pounds peeled butternut squash, diced (See note.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crème fraiche
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken stock plus up to 1/2 cup extra if needed

Tart apples or pears, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
8 to12 ounces kielbasa, sliced and sautéed
Sourdough or peasant bread slices, brushed with olive oil and lightly pan grilled or toasted in the oven

Wooden skewers for spearing

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Brush a large heavy, rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread cubed squash in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons or more olive oil over squash, and toss to coat well. Season squash with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper.

3. Roast squash, stirring every 10 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife and browned around the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes or longer. Cool 5 minutes, and then puree in a food processor until smooth.

4 Place 2 1/2 cups of puree in a medium, heavy saucepan; save any extra for another use. Set pan over medium heat, and stir until puree is hot. Stir in the crème fraiche, curry powder, rosemary, and thyme until well blended. Stir in 1/2 cup stock to lighten the texture, and season with salt to taste. (The dip can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, adding up to 1/2 cup extra stock to bring mixture to dipping consistency if necessary.)

5. Spoon the warm dip into a serving bowl and place on a platter. Surround with apple slices, sausage, and bread.  Serve with wooden skewers for dipping. Serves 5 to 6.

Note: Look for peeled butternut squash (a definite time saver) in the supermarket. About 2 1/2 pounds peeled squash can be substituted for 3 pounds of unpeeled.

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