When it comes to gardening, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know squash. I went to this rustic albeit fancy restaurant many years ago, and the featured side dish was creamed squash. It was absolutely incredible. After gaining some experience with this whole “cooking” thing, I now realize that even though it was one of those moments that foodies live for, they just had to do something with ALL of that yellow squash. Alas.
My friend Michelle is a true and avid gardener. She has lived and worked in wine country, traveled extensively, and knows how to bring flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. I asked for her thoughts regarding this vegetable (technically a fruit) and she strongly believes that burying one plant is an exclusive invitation for every squash bug in a 30-mile radius to come on over and party like a rock star. However, if you put out five plants, the bugs will snub you and you’ll end up with so much bounty that joke bags of summer squash will be left on neighbor’s porches or put in trick-or-treat bags. That requires mad skills.
Today’s recipe does not require that skill set. Fall is upon us, and I want to share an appetizer that is appropriate for almost any gathering during this beautiful season. It is a dip that takes advantage of the butternut squash that is so plentiful right now. It is quite savory, and every time I make it for friends, someone requests the recipe. I hope you dig it as much as we do. Cheers!
Butternut Squash Dip
1 medium butternut squash
1 small yellow onion
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 8-ounce block cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1/2 cup walnut chips
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Baguette slices, assorted crackers, sliced apples for dipping
Slice the butternut squash in half. Drizzle cut sides with olive oil and place cut sides down on a jelly roll pan lined with non-stick foil. Toss 6 unpeeled garlic cloves and one small yellow onion (quartered) in olive oil and arrange around squash. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.
Remove the onion and garlic after 25 minutes to prevent burning. The skin on the squash needs to be loose enough to peel easily, so check it at 45 minutes and adjust accordingly. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, peel and chop squash, squeeze roasted garlic from its skin and blend in food processor with onion until somewhat smooth.
Add 3 tablespoons sour cream and 1 block cream cheese. Continue blending while adding cayenne pepper, salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in about 1/2 cup of Duke’s mayonnaise and 1/4 cup walnut chips. Place in baking dish and heat until warmed through (about 275 degrees for 30 minutes). Top with shredded Parmesan and sprinkle with more walnuts while still warm. Serve with bread, crackers and apple slices. Freezes well.
(If you would like to use for pasta sauce, just thin with half and half or milk.)
Sharon Little is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times-News.