Cajun Butternut Squash

I made this “Cajun” squash for the first time a couple of years ago, inspired by the country cooking of Louisiana. The first time I was there I was struck by how much the food is like Italian home cooking, just more spicy and and using different indigenous ingredients. While there are Dixon roots in the south, I can’t claim any more of a connection than just really liking the food.

Anyway, I made this again recently, decided to finish it in the oven (instead of on the stove; see original recipe below), and let it roast longer than planned (distracted by Netflix). But it was so good, I’m doing this way from now on.

My new, preferred version…

Chop an onion and start cooking it in extra virgin olive oil in a big skillet. Add a chopped green bell pepper and a couple of stalks of chopped celery. Sprinkle liberally with some kind of Cajun or Creole spice blend (New Seasons has a good one in the bulk section) or just use a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and cayenne or chili to taste. Stir it up.

Add a peeled and cubed butternut squash. I find it easiest to cut the squash into slices (cut the lower half off first and scrape out the seeds), then slice the outer peel off rather than use a swivel peeler. Mix everything up and cook on the stovetop another 10 minutes. Add about a quarter cup of Katz Gravenstein Apple Cider vinegar.

Cut a circle from parchment to fit snugly over the skillet. Press it onto the squash, then put the skillet in the oven at 350F. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the edges are starting to look a little dark. Remove, let cool a bit, and eat. Some Crystal is good, and make some rice, too.

The original approach (still quite tasty)….

Chop an onion and start cooking it in extra virgin olive oil. Add a couple of stalks of diced celery and a diced green pepper. If you like a little heat, add a diced jalapeno, too. Toss in a little salt and cook for abut 10 minutes.

While that’s cooking, peel, seed, and cube a butternut squash. You want pieces about a half inch, but don’t worry about perfection. I peel the squash, split it lengthwise, scoop put the seeds, then lay it cut side down and slice. Stack a few slices at a time and cut them into roughly square chunks.

Add the squash to pan and sprinkle with a generous dose of your favorite Cajun spice blend (or make one with roughly equal parts of black pepper and paprika, about half as much thyme, and chili powder to your heat tolerance). Cook this for 15 minutes over medium heat, then pour in some Katz Gravenstein apple cider vinegar (maybe 1/4 cup). Cover, reduce the heat, and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender.