Expand Your Squash Horizons

Nearly any menu can improve the bottom line with seasonal squash specials. Here are some ideas and a recipe open to improvisation to get you inspired.

Brunch: CraftKitchen in Henderson, Nevada, tosses butternut squash into a breakfast hash with poblano peppers, caramelized onions and two cage-free eggs.

Burgers: Sweet potato fries and onion rings aren’t the only sides competing against French fries for burger time. Thin slices of butternut squash are coated in Parmesan and fried to frico-like texture at The Smith in Washington D.C. and New York. Served as a side, the dish is paired with spicy harissa aioli.

Italian: Goat cheese and acorn squash are made for each other, particularly on a pizza, with caramelized leeks, pepitas, and apple saba at Seven Lions in Chicago.

Steakhouses: Infuse color and seasonal sweetness into a gratin by swapping in squash for potatoes. At Urban Farmer, a steakhouse in Cleveland, one of fall’s biggest hits is the squash (acorn or butternut) gratin made with caramelized apple, pumpkin seeds, aged cheddar and fennel sausage gravy.

Honey Nut Squash Custard

Chef Michael Gallina
Vicia, St. Louis, Missouri

4 small honeynut or butternut squash
Olive oil as needed
Kosher salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper as needed
Brown sugar as needed
5 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Halve squashes widthwise, remove seeds, rub with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Place on a sheet pan, flesh-side up, and roast in a preheated 400°F oven until tender, about 30 minutes; cool.

Scoop out flesh (do not pierce skin), reserve shells, and transfer to a high speed blender. Add eggs and cream and blend on high until smooth. Add cinnamon and nutmeg; correct seasonings.

Place hollowed squash shells on a silicone-lined sheet pan and fill with custard. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven until custard is set and doesn’t jiggle – about 25 minutes. Cool.

At service, coat with brown sugar. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and savory granola for crunch. Makes four servings.

Room for more? Look out for these squash-based desserts near you:

Milkshake: Seasonal roasted squash, such as acorn, buttercup and kabocha, headline a milkshake with maple, rum and cloves at Gristmill in Brooklyn, New York.

Agua Fresca: 
Beverages at Agave Mexican Restaurant in Healdsburg, California, include agua de chilacayota with cooked chilacayote squash, water, Mexican sugar, lime and cinnamon sticks.