Very Versatile Butternut Squash
The delicious bright orange butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is sometimes known as butternut pumpkin. It can be roasted, boiled, fried, pureed or grilled – it is the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of dishes and can also be used to make wonderful rich creamy soup. I always think of butternut squash as a vegetable, but it has seeds so I suppose it is probably a fruit. Either way, whatever you choose to call it, it has a sweet, nutty flavour and its flesh is similar to that of other pumpkins. It has orange fleshy pulp and a yellow skin. As it ripens the colour gradually turns to a deep orange. The flavour becomes sweeter and much more intense.
This fruit is also a very healthy choice being rich in vitamins A and C and minerals such as beta-carotene, potassium niacin, thiamine and manganese. They are also a rich source of fibre.
Butternut squash is probably one of the most versatile vegetables to be found in any kitchen. It can be cut into fingers, sprayed with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted like potato wedges. Alternatively, it can be made into thick hearty soup especially good in the winter. For a light summer meal these butternut burgers are great with a salad.
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Butternuts are harvested in the autumn and because of their very tough skins they can be stored through the winter. Butternuts should be kept in a cool, dry place for anything up to a month, although I've kept them for much longer. They are usually thought of as a winter fruit but are good any time of year and with imports coming from all sorts of places they are available throughout the year in the UK. Butternuts freeze well. Just cut peel and remove the seeds and cut into one-inch cubes. You can either cook the squash or freeze the flesh raw. They keep extremely well.
The following ingredients make eight burgers.
500 grams butternut, peel, remove seeds and cut into small chunks
40 grams gluten-free breadcrumbs (have some extra breadcrumbs handy in case the mixture is too wet to roll into burgers)
1 onion, finely chopped
100 grams almonds
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
25 grams potato flour (rice flour works equally well)
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated Cheese for topping
Puree all ingredients (excluding grated cheese) in a food blender. Leave the mixture fairly roughly chopped.
Divide the mixture into eight equal patties. If the mixture is too wet to form into patties add more bread crumbs.
Coat each burger in egg and gluten-free flour.
Fry in hot oil until golden brown turning frequently to avoid burning.
When the burgers are cooked sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve piping hot. They go really well with mashed potatoes and any vegetable or just in a gluten-free bun with pickled cucumbers and garnish. Since butternut has such a strong nutty flavour it goes better with plain foods, for example, nothing too strongly flavoured or heavily spiced.
The burgers are also good served cold as an accompaniment to a mixed salad and raw vegetable sticks such as celery or sugar snap peas.
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