Kitchen Focus

This time of the year, recipes featuring winter squash abound. Whether you are looking for a tasty butternut squash bisque or want something as elegant as stuffed acorn squash, winter squash is a common centerpiece of vegetarian meals and a fantastic addition to meat-lovers' meals as well.

Look for squash that is free of blemishes and hard when thumped. A squash that seems heavy for its size will generally yield more flesh, too, so look for those to make the most of your produce dollars. And now, without further delay, here are two fantastic squash recipes for your delight!

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 6 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in butter until tender. Add the squash, broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil; cook for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Puree the squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth or add the cream cheese to the squash and blend with an immersion blender in the saucepan. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake them for 30 minutes, or until tender. Dissolve the sugar in the melted butter. Brush the squash with the butter mixture, and keep it warm while preparing the stuffing.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the garbanzo beans and raisins. Season with the cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook and stir the mixture until the vegetables are tender.

Pour the broth into the skillet, and mix in the couscous. Cover the skillet, and turn off the heat. Allow the couscous to absorb liquid for 5 minutes. Stuff the squash halves with the skillet mixture to serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour