November 11, 2010

On Roasting Winter Vegetables

It seems that every autumn I succumb to the temptation to buy multiple winter squashes: butternut, acorn and at least a few whose names I can never remember; you know. the beautiful ones piled in bins at the farmers markets.  And every year, regardless of whether the vendor promised that they were "super-sweet," or "buttery and rich orange on the inside,"  I end up cooking them, not liking them and throwing them away.  Frankly, the only recipe for fresh winter squash that I've ever liked enough to cook a second time (and a third and fourth time, in fact) is the Pumpkin Bread recipe from Joy of Cooking.  I substitute roasted butternut squash or Cinderella pumpkin for the pumpkin, and my husband and I agree that we actually like the squash bread better than (canned) pumpkin bread.

But as the weather in Upstate California abruptly cools off and as all my favorite cooking blogs post recipes that include these autumn beauties, I have been tempted once more.  This time, with not so much a recipe, but a method for roasting pumpkin... that and the gorgeous photos of the oh so simple finished product.  Roasted pumpkin seasoned simply with salt and pepper and 'branches of herbs,'  or cinnamon and sugar.  But I don't go that route.  I think I've tried it before, and been disappointed.  (You guessed it, I am not one of those people waits expectantly all year for pumpkin lattes to be 'in season.') 

I think I've figured out the root of my disappointment with squash :  I really do look forward to sweet potatoes and parsnips all year long.  Really.  And I love them roasted.  In fact, quite often, I'll roast extras and heat them up in the microwave and eat them as one of the most comforting afternoon snacks ever.  And it just isn't sweet potato or parsnip season yet.  So for now, roasted pumpkin or squash will have to do.

There really isn't a secret to roasting winter squashes.  I simply cut them in half, remove the seeds and roast while I'm cooking whatever else I am cooking, until they are soft.

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