Boiled and mashed, basic butternut squash can taste exactly that. But there is a world of seasonings that work wonderfully with this sweet-savory vegetable. For roasted squash, Chinese hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil make a rich, tangy dressing while chopped chives add fresh notes. Pureed into an Indian-inspired soup, the squash gets lighter and brighter with bloomed spices, earthy carrots, and a sprinkling of spicy, toasted pumpkin seeds. And when sautéed with tomato paste and warm Turkish spices, it makes a delicious nontraditional filling for gözleme, a stuffed flatbread with salty halloumi cheese.
Turkish-Style Stuffed Flatbreads With Butternut Squash and Cheese
Makes 4 servings
Gözleme is made by filling an unleavened dough called yufka then cooking the bread on a wide, round griddle. For a quick weeknight version, we use flour tortillas.
The nontraditional vegetarian filling here is a nice balance of sweet squash with onion, warm spices, and salty halloumi cheese. Pulse the squash and onion mixture in a food processor until the pieces are about the size of rice grains. If the mixture is too coarse, it will take longer to cook and the texture won’t be smooth.
Serve the flatbreads with a simple yogurt sauce made by mixing 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
12 ounces peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into rough 1-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
4 ounces halloumi cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 5-inch flour tortillas
2 teaspoons grape-seed or other neutral oil
In a food processor, pulse the squash, onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper until finely chopped (see headnote), 15 to 20 pulses.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the squash mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, then cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cool for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet.
To the squash mixture, stir in the halloumi, Aleppo pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Divide evenly among the tortillas, spreading it over the center third, and fold the sides over the filling like folding a letter.
In the same skillet over medium, heat 1 teaspoon of oil until shimmering. Add 4 of the filled tortillas and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, then transfer to individual plates. Using the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, cook the remaining filled tortillas in the same way.
Roasted Butternut Squash With Hoisin and Chives
Makes 4 servings
Hoisin mixed with rice vinegar and sesame oil makes a salty-sweet-tangy-nutty dressing for tender chunks of roasted butternut squash. You can purchase already peeled and cut squash from the grocery store, but keep in mind that if the pieces are smaller or larger than specified here, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Use a broiler-safe, rimmed baking sheet since the squash chars under the broiler after roasting.
3 pounds peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons neutral oil
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Heat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack 6 inches from the element. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the neutral oil, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until just shy of tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and then broil the squash until charred and fully tender, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, vinegar, and sesame oil. When the squash is done, immediately add it and the chives to the bowl, then toss.
Indian-Spiced Butternut Squash Soup With Yogurt
Makes 4 servings
In his book Bollywood Kitchen, filmmaker Sri Rao offers a pureed butternut squash soup with flavors that are bold and vibrant, yet comforting. Our adaptation, like his, includes fresh ginger and warm spices to complement the natural sweetness of squash. But because butternut squash often has a one-note flavor, we include carrots for earthiness and depth. A spoonful of yogurt and some spiced pumpkin seeds add color and texture.
After adding the yogurt, take care not to bring the soup to a full simmer, which would curdle the yogurt.
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks (4 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt, plus more to serve
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until barely smoking. Add the squash, carrots, and 2 teaspoons salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it has softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne, and 2 teaspoons salt, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the remaining ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne, the pumpkin seeds, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In a blender and working in batches, puree the squash mixture and its cooking liquid, processing until mostly smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in the yogurt and heat over low, stirring occasionally, just until warmed; avoid simmering the soup. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to puree the squash mixture and its cooking liquid directly in the pot, then stir in the yogurt; the soup will not need reheating if pureed in the pot.) Taste and season with salt. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with additional yogurt and the spiced pumpkin seeds.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.