Winter Squash Dip
I’m a big supporter of fall. I love it when the leaves change color, the chill that creeps into the air, and the winter squash that start to appear in our Abundant Harvest Organics boxes. This fall is no different. I’m in the mood for soups and stews, cozy sweaters, and all the winter squash I can get my hands on.
I have a few go to recipes for winter squash. Things like Spaghetti Squash au Gratin (which uses both spaghetti and butternut squash), Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, and Spaghetti Soup. I’ll make them over and over again for sure. But, it’s fun to get creative with food, so I came up with a fun winter squash dip that will be perfect to snack on while watching post season baseball, for a dinner party appetizer, or as a simple supper.
I used acorn squash this time. But, seriously, any winter squash will do. I’d planned to use pumpkin, but I didn’t have one on hand. If you have pumpkin, and the skin doesn’t get too soft when roasting, it’d make a lovely serving dish. I tried to do that with the acorn squash, but the skin isn’t as tough as say spaghetti squash, so I opted for an oven-safe dish.
This dip is full of options for what to add to it. Not only can you use whatever winter squash you have on hand, there are plenty of possibilities for what to mix in. I used garbanzo beans, basil, cheddar, and parmesan. But, you could substitute white, kidney, or black beans for the garbanzos. Then you could choose between blue cheese, feta, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Gruyère, mozzarella, pecorino, ricotta, ricotta salata, Romano, or Roncal if you don’t have cheddar or Parmesan, or tofu if you want to go vegan. And for the fresh herbs, I’d go with either parsley or thyme if you don’t have basil (or along with it). Just pick things that you think will go well with the other flavors you’ve got going on.
I topped the dip with some halved cherry tomatoes and some nuts. And again, here the possibilities are pretty limitless: hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds would all be great in place of almonds. I love the crunch that the nuts bring to the dip.
I’d used half of the cheese in the dip, the rest went on top to get bubbly and browned, along with the tomatoes. One of my favorite things.
You can serve this dip hot, room temperature, or eat it right out of the fridge. If you opt for the latter, you might get the entire previously melted cheese slice in one bite. Not the worst problem you could have. I liked it best cooled slightly, but still warm, with lots of dipping utensils: corn chips and raw veggies were my favorite.
- 4 C combination of any: (squash) acorn, butternut, spaghetti, buttercup, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin; halved or top sliced off and seeds removed,carrots, ends trimmed
- 1 head garlic, top sliced off
- a good sprinkle of cayenne or 1 hot pepper, halved, ribs and seeds removed
- 2 t olive oil
- 2 C combination of any: garbanzo, white, kidney, or black beans; cooked
- 1 C greens (optional), chopped
- 1/4 C combination of any: fresh basil, parsley, or thyme
- 2 C combination of any: blue, cheddar, feta, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Gruyère, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, ricotta, ricotta salata, Romano, Roncal; grated (if needed), or may use tofu (silken or firm and crumbled)
- 1 C combination of any: corn, tomatoes (fresh or dried)
- to taste salt
- 1/4 C combination of any: almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pinenuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds; chopped
- raw veggies (carrots, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, celery), roasted veggies (sweet potatoes, summer squash, eggplant, fennel), chips, crackers, or bread; for serving
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Brush squash/pumpkin with oil inside and out. Place cut side down on a baking sheet (the lid too, if you didn't halve it - if you halved it and are planning to serve the dip in it, you could slice a bit off the bottom so it sits flat). Drizzle the garlic with olive oil and wrap with foil. Brush carrots and hot pepper with olive oil and wrap with foil. Roast for 45-60 minutes, or until tender (pepper may take closer to 20-30 minutes). If using greens, sauté in 1 T olive oil over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Scrape squash from shell (reserve shell to serve in if desired) then either mash or purée in food processor with garlic (squeeze cloves from skin) through cheese (reserving half cheese for topping). Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Return to squash shell or to a greased oven safe dish, top with remaining cheese and tomatoes/corn/nuts. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or broil for a few minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned.
- Serve with raw or roasted veggies, chips, crackers, or bread, for dipping.