Here’s the squash I didn’t quite get to on Friendsgiving. For your own Thanksgiving, make it a few days ahead and transfer it to individual ramekins, so you can reheat it by sneaking them into the corners of your oven without taking up one big part of a rack.
Cotija is a crumbly Mexican cow’s milk cheese with a good tang. It doesn’t melt easily, which means it retains its flavor well in hot dishes.
Pureed Butternut Squash with Ancho Chili and Cotija (PDF)
Recipe 306 of 365
Although I myself will eat butternut squash in almost any incarnation, I think many of those that object to it don’t like how many Thanksgiving preparations sweeten it, turning it into a cross between dinner and dessert. Here’s a simple, more savory puree, spiced with fresh ancho chili powder and topped with crumbly fresh Mexican cotija cheese.
Note: This would also make a lovely soup – simply thin the puree with broth or stock, reheat, and season to taste.
TIME: 20 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 servings
1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh ancho chili powder
1/3 cup heavy cream
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Fill a large saucepan with about 1 1/2” of water. Add squash and a teaspoon of salt, cover, and bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is soft, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the oil, then the chili powder, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 20 seconds, until aromatic. (If the chili powder burns, start again.) Transfer the chili oil to a small bowl and set aside.
Drain the squash, transfer to the work bowl of a food processor, add the chili oil and cream, and puree until smooth. Season with additional salt, if necessary, and puree again. Serve hot, topped with cotija.
For Thanksgiving: Make the squash up to 3 days ahead (but don’t add the cotija). Transfer the squash to a baking dish (or several small ramekins, which you can sneak into different corners of your oven when space is at a premium). Let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. Squash can be reheated, covered with foil, for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven (or 15 minutes for ramekins), then topped with cheese before serving.