As we head deeper into the Autumn season, the sun sets sooner and the air becomes crisper. We as home cooks can finally turn our ovens up high and comfortably roast all the fall vegetables. With this pandemic inspiring more creativeness within our own kitchens, I’d love to share my tips on how to make purees from squashes such as pumpkin and butternut. Allowing fall inspirations to expand to soups, ravioli fillings to pies at home.
Working in a Farm to Table restaurant in New York for the past 5 years. Pumpkin puree never came out of a can. And Thanksgiving prep started before Halloween. All you need for a smooth squash puree is some basic equipment. Just an oven, a baking tray or sheet, knife, cutting board, blender or food processer, colander, bowl, cheese cloth or paper towels and just a little bit of patience. The great part is, you can make these purees weeks in advance and freeze them. That’s how restaurants are able to prepare throughout the season.
Starting with the squashes, I chose to roast one medium butternut squash and a smaller pumpkin called a sugar pumpkin. I like to use sugar pumpkins mainly because of their size, their texture is also less grainy or fibrous and they also have more natural sweetness in the squash. Allowing them to be great for pumpkin pies.
With an oven set to 400 degrees, I usually line a baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil to make the clean-up easier at the end. With the skin still on the squashes, I cut the in half from top to bottom vertically. Removing the seeds as well. I place them with the skin side up on the trays and poke holes through the skins. This will allow steam to release while its baking, this will also help them bake more evenly. Roast for 45 minutes or until the skin is able to make a dent when poked.
I let the squashes cool enough so they can be picked up and handled. The pulp of the squashes should easily pull away from the skin. Place it in a food processer and blend till smooth. For soups and sauces the puree is ready to go. For pie or ravioli fillings, it best to remove some of the water content in the puree. The easiest way to do that is by lining a colander with either cheese cloth, or paper towels. Even an old t-shirt would work. Placing the puree inside and weighing it down, either with a plate or even a pot. This will force the moisture out leaving a thicker puree.
Its best to store the puree in the fridge for less than a week or a freezer for up to two months. Pureed squashes are such a blank canvas for all the fall inspirations because it complements a ton of different flavors. From aromatic spices like cinnamon and clove to savory garlic and mushrooms flavors. These squashes can be enjoyed all fall and winter long.
Denise, born and raised in Northern New Jersey. Started her culinary career at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. She completed her studies by graduating a Bachelor’s in Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management, while also minoring in Contemporary Pastry, Beverage Management and Psychology.
As the Pandemic hit she is also teaching Virtual Baking class through Fēst cooking. Follow her class and recipe updates @NJpastrychef on Instagram