by Holly Madrigal
Winter squash is the garden’s gift to the season. Uncut and whole, they can be kept for months in a cool place. Local farms provide many varieties, all with different flavors, textures, and uses. Some of the best “pumpkin” pies, for example, actually come from butternut squash. The bright striped torpedoes of the Delicata squash can be roasted and eaten with the skin on, saving prep time. The hefty Blue Hubbards bake up smooth and sweet with a hint of nuttiness. Their exterior skins are the dusty pale blue of dawn in the winter time. The pastel yellow Spaghetti squash make delicious vegetarian noodles. Pierced to prevent explosion, you can cook these easily in the microwave. Separate the threads of flesh with a fork to break it up, and toss with butter simmered with cumin, ground coriander and diced garlic. Add some fresh cilantro and you have a hearty and satisfying side dish.
The Butternut Hominy Stew below will warm your home and belly. This is a great recipe to make on Sunday afternoon so that you can enjoy the leftovers throughout the week. Poured over brown rice or drizzled on tacos, this recipe keeps on giving, with savory goodness.
Fortunate Farm in Caspar has a bumper crop of winter squash this year. Stop by their farm stand to find the varieties shown here as well as other produce, flowers, and treats—15401 N Hwy 1, Caspar. Turn at the sign, and the farm stand is just down the driveway. They are open all winter, rain or shine. Hours are 10:00 to 2:00, so stop by and pick up some goods.
Butternut Hominy Stew
3-4 tsp cumin seeds
2 T olive oil
2 c chopped onion (red or yellow)
1-1/2 T chili powder
1 tsp Piment d’ville (or more to taste)*
3 cloves of garlic, minced
6-8 c butternut (or buttercup) squash, peeled and cubed •
4-ish c chicken or vegetable stock
1 large can hominy
Cilantro (to taste)
Lime (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Lightly roast the cumin seeds on the stovetop, then set aside. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add garlic, butternut squash, chili powder, and piment d’ville. Saute until spices are spread throughout. Slowly add the stock, the amount varying depending upon whether you want a thick-ish stew or a thinner soup. Add the hominy, and allow stew to simmer until the squash is tender and the flavors have melded. Add salt, cilantro, and lime to taste. This is super yummy served with avocado and warm tortillas.
*Locally grown from seed and hand harvested in Boonville, Piment d'ville is the same variety of pepper known as piment d'espelette, a sweet, spicy red Basque chile.