One of these days I’m going to rename this blog, “Eat Butternut Squash or Die, Mofo!“
And in preparation for that, here’s a truly fabulous, gluten-free, vegetarian use for the ubiquitous winter workhorse itself. It’s adapted from Barbara Kafka’s absolutely fantastic Vegetable Love, a gem for anyone who eats vegetables, and a must if you’re a CSA member. I hadn’t set out to make a dinner out of squash, but I came across the book just after roasting one, and it all sort of came together in a beautiful way.
I was interested to read this:
“There has been a rebellion in recent years in France against the rise of flour. [!] I don’t agree, but when it comes to vegetable souffles, the taste of the vegetable is often more pronounced without the use of flour.”
A few more pages of flipping landed me on Kafka’s brilliant combination of rhubarb and beets, and since I had those on hand too, that became the side dish.
Very Vermont Squash & Cheddar Souffle
Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Puree Souffle
About 4 dinner servings
1. Preheat oven to 400 with a rack in the center position.
2. Generously butter a 6- or 8-cup souffle dish (or any 6-8 cup round, straight-sided oven-proof dish). Lightly coat with:
- 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (I was out and so used potato flakes. The reason for this ingredient is to give the souffle something to climb as it puffs up, so the coarser texture was a good substitute.)
- 4 eggs
with whites in medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Whisk together:
- 1 c. milk
- 1 1/2 c. butternut (or other) squash puree
- egg yolks, one at a time
- 1 c. grated cheddar cheese (I used Cabot’s 50% fat, my standby)
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
- sprinkle ground ginger
- sprinkle cayenne
5. Using your handheld blender or stand mixer or whatever you like for such things, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
6. Using a rubber spatula, take a generous scoop of the whites and fold them into the cheese mixture with gentle, sure strokes until it’s mostly combined.
Fold in the remaining whites until fairly well-combined, remembering to keep a fairly gentle touch and not pushing out the air in the egg whites.
7. Scrape the mixture into your prepared dish and put on a baking sheet in the oven (if you use an 8-cup dish you can skip the baking sheet as it oughtn’t spill over the sides). Bake for 25 minutes or until, as Kafka describes, the souffle is, “puffed, golden brown and only slightly wiggly in the center.”
Since souffles are notorious for deflating, I snapped this picture right away, before I jostled it on its way out of the oven.
And then it was still nice and puffy and so I took another picture.
Still puffy! I was so excited I took another.
STILL PUFFY! But, okay, enough was enough. So then I put away the camera, cut into it and ate. Serve immediately, or at room temperature, or even cold for an easy leftover lunch the next day.
A couple of notes:
- It had been a while since I’d made a souffle, and was a little sad to discover I had lost my proper souffle dish somewhere along the way. I used an 8-cup Pyrex round baking dish and it worked just fine.
- One advance step that I always try to do, and usually forget, is taking out the eggs about half an hour before I intend to start cooking so that they can come to room temperature. This makes a difference when you’re trying to get the whites beaten until fluffy, but don’t worry too much if you skip it.
- Though I usually make souffles quite firm, Kafka offers this, “… the French prefer their souffles baveuse, creamy in the middle. This semi-liquid center serves almost as a sauce.” I did, and the contrast was nice … if initially a little alarming.
Warm Rhubarb & Beet Salad
Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love
About 4 servings
Combine in a medium saucepan:
- 5 roasted beets, peeled
- 2 c. chopped rhubarb stalk (I had it in the freezer: maybe you’ve got some too)
- 1/2 c. cider
- 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- (I had this on hand, which I used instead of the cider and balsamic)
- generous sprinkle kosher salt
Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb starts to break down and liquids are reduced to syrup.