Great finds this week at the farm stand including beautiful butternut squash and fat poblano peppers. The heart of autumn treasures, with a few summer peppers tossed in for good measure. Our seasons always have a few stragglers from the previous.
Made for each other
Poblano peppers have lovely flavor and medium heat. Grilled, roasted, baked, stuffed, added to stir-fries or chili, they make their presence known. Butternut squash is plentiful right now, full of beta carotene and other super healthful nutrients, so why not top one veggie with another and double the good?
Time to make a sauce
The smoky flavor of the grilled poblanos is enhanced with smoked paprika and paprika flakes. They play together nicely, and the sauce can top any number of delights. I have topped tofu with it, but just about any protein will gladly accept being wrapped in this warmth. But for a change this time, a whole roasted squash. Great for company, and most of the work is done by the grill and the food processor.
Yes, you can eat the skins too
Squash grilled on the barbeque will also pick up smoke as well, adding more flavor to the overall dish. Additionally, the tough skin softens beautifully and is completely and pleasantly edible – more fiber! One of my least favorite kitchen tasks is peeling butternut squash, so this one makes me happy.
Butternut Squash with Smoked Poblano Pepper Sauce
1 butternut squash
4 or 5 large poblanos, about 14 ounces
1 large yellow onion
1 head garlicwith fat cloves
1 tbsp. fresh mint, minced
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
Set up charcoal in your grill and let coals get white. I use the chimney starters so I don’t have to use any fluids. Once the coals are ready, dump them on one side of the grill. Clean off your charcoal grill grate and oil well.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and brush with olive oil. Separate the cloves from the garlic and snip off the pointy end. Place on a square of parchment-lined foil, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt, and wrap up. I find this method cooks the garlic faster and it is much easier to remove the pulp, especially if you are in the north where the garlic is usually hard neck. Leave the peppers whole, and cut the onion in half at the equator.
Place the squash cut-side down on the direct heat side of the grill and let char for a few minutes. Turn the halves over, and move to the indirect side of the grill, along with the garlic packet and other veggies.
Close the grill and check on the veggies every five minutes or so. Remove the peppers and onion when they are soft and the peppers black. Continue to cook the squash and check until a knife inserted in the flesh pierces it easily. This all depends on size and age of the squash.
Place the peppers in a bowl, cover until cool, then rub off the charred skins. Slice in half and remove the seeds and stem and place in a food processor or food mill.
Place the onion in the food processor.Squeeze the pulp out of the cloves into the food processor.
Add the paprika, maple syrup and lime juice,and season with a little salt. Blitz until smooth, then drizzle in the olive oil.
Thin with a bit of water to the desired consistency, taste, and correct the seasoning. What do you think it needs if anything? If your peppers are not very hot, you can add a bit of cayenne. Garnish with a few smoked paprika flakes if desired, since without at least a bit of color, this sauce will most definitely not win a beauty contest!
Sprinkle the walnuts over the squash (you need some crunch), drizzle with the pepper sauce. It is good on just about any grilled vegetable or protein of choice. To serve, slice each side into about five pieces, and offe extra sauce on the side.
Or, oven roast everything!
Raining out? Snowing? You can easily make this in the oven, set to a hot roast 450 degrees F. It won’t taste quite as smoky, but will still be delicious.