Off the fork: Fear the pumpkin? Savor the squash

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTOS Roasting squash in a sheet pan is fast and you get a nice crust.

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTOS
Roasting squash in a sheet pan is fast and you get a nice crust.

Because I have tried to operate a motor vehicle on the North Fork during a weekend in October, I fear the pumpkin. The influx of visitors looking for parking generated by pumpkin-picking opportunities combined with the wanton use of pumpkin spices in everything from coffee to dog biscuits (yes, really) are why I see pumpkins as potentially dangerous.

That’s why butternut is my preferred winter squash, and I add ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (the components of pumpkin spice) to my food one at a time. Food trends eventually cross the line from something new and different to ‘oh no, not again,’ and I think that’s what happened to pumpkin spice.

A food trend I love is the rise of the sheet pan as a kitchen essential as fundamental as a skillet. Recipes for sheet pan chicken (chicken parts roasted with cut up vegetables) and even sheet pan ice cream are so easy that I had to buy an extra pan so I can still cook while one is being washed.

These two recipes both use butternut squash and a sheet pan. The crispy squash is a side dish, but it is hearty enough to be a main and the sheet pan ice cream is as creamy as if it were churned thanks to the pureed squash.

Crispy Sheet Pan Squash, adapted
from Elizabeth Schneider’s
“Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini”

This makes six servings as a side dish or three as a main dish.

2 and ½ lbs. of butternut squash.

1 and ½ tablespoons of flour

½ teaspoon sugar

1 minced garlic pod

½ teaspoon dried sage or four fresh leaves torn into pieces

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Peel and halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut the flesh into 2-inch chunks.

Mix flour, sugar, garlic, sage, salt and several grinds of pepper in a large steel bowl, toss in the squash chunks, and shake to cover them evenly. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil and toss again.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, spread the squash out in an even layer and dribble the rest of the olive oil over it.

Cover the sheet pan with foil and cut a few slits into it to allow some steam to escape. Bake for 40 minutes, remove the foil, stir the squash, turn the oven up to 425 degrees, move the pan to a rack closer to the source of heat and cook about 30 minutes until the squash browns.

Pumpkin Spice Sheet Pan Ice Cream

1 lb. butternut squash

3/4 cup whole milk

2/3 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Half a nutmeg, grated, (about a teaspoon ground)

1 1/2 cups whole cream

Roast one unpeeled butternut squash at 475 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until very soft.

Cool, scoop out the flesh and puree one and ½ cup of it in the food-processor with 1/2 cup of the cream and 1/3 cup of the sugar.

Blend the milk and the rest of sugar together with a whisk. Add the vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

Using a box grater, grate ½ of a nutmeg into the mixture.

Add the cream and the milk mixture to the squash mixture in the food processor and puree until smooth.

Spread the mixture in an even layer in a metal sheet pan, cover it with plastic wrap and chill in freezer for 2 hours until it is firm but soft enough to scoop. If you prefer to use an ice-cream maker, cool the mixture for at least two hours in the refrigerator, before churning it.

Pumpkin spice sheet pan ice cream.

Pumpkin spice sheet pan ice cream.

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