When my kids were little, I generally made all of their baby food. The jarred stuff just kind of grossed me out, so I ground up sweet potatoes, mashed up bananas and pureed baby lamb chops and they were received with varying degrees of success, largely depending on which child was the recipient! Because it was just regular food my husband and I often joined in and always finished the leftovers. I know that this maple squash puree would have been a huge hit--without turning anyone off, it's like the very best of gourmet baby food with an adult twist!! If you like butternut squash, you will find this addictive! We can't stop eating it!!
Truly, I am in love with this dish, for so many reasons. Besides the velvety creamy texture, there is the wonderful flavor of butternut squash lightly enhanced with the sweetness of pure maple syrup. And yet, because of the black pepper, it also has a little kick to it. Then, there is the fact that it is so easy to make. I cheated this time and bought already peeled squash, so all I had to do was cut it into cubes, but you could make it even easier by purchasing the already cut up kind.
The clincher is that all you basically do is boil the squash, drain it, add the maple syrup, a little butter, some salt and pepper and puree it. I used my immersion blender (a great holiday gift if you don't already have one) but you could also transfer it into a food processor or blender too. If you like butternut squash, definitely take advantage that it's in season now and make this soon. It goes really well with chicken but would be great with almost anything. And it reheats perfectly in the microwave.
As I'm writing this, a little dish is sitting next to me, that I keep tasting for research purposes, you know. Ha! Or should I say, Gah Gah?! Baby food never had it so good!
Maple Squash Puree
Prep Time: About 45 minutes (but only about 10 minutes active time)
5 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups water
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Pour the water into a 5 quart pot. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the cut up squash. Cover the pot and simmer until the squash is very tender (the water won't cover the squash, that's ok). For me, this took about 25 minutes.
2. Drain squash in a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return squash to the pot and add the butter, maple syrup and remaining salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, puree till smooth, or transfer in batches to a food processor and puree till smooth. If the mixture seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved cooking liquid. I added about 1/4 cup. Serve immediately.
3. Puree can be made 3 days ahead and kept chilled. Reheat in microwave and add a little water if it seems too thick.
Note: Recipe adapted from an 2003 issue of Gourmet Magazine.