This bright-tasting side dish can serve as an alternative to mashed potatoes and can easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with a vegetable-oil spread, such as Earth Balance.
Peeling raw squash can be a chore; you don't need to do that here. Cut the squash into large pieces and remove the seeds, then steam with the peel on. It's easy to scoop out the flesh and discard the cooked peel.
Adding a few slices of ginger to the squash and apples as they steam will lend fragrant flavor.
Make Ahead: The puree can be made and refrigerated 2 days in advance. To reheat, use butter to lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish. Spread the chilled puree in the dish, and dot with small pieces of butter. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
- 5 1/2 to 6 pounds medium-size butternut or acorn squash
- 2-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut into 1/4-inch coins
- 3 to 4 medium apples, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black or white pepper
- Finely grated zest from 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or ground cinnamon
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (see headnote)
Fill 2 large pots with 2 inches of water in each one; place each pot over high heat. Place a large steamer basket or pasta-pot insert for the squash, and a steamer basket or fine-mesh strainer for the apples (to keep the apples above the water, you might need to place the strainer on an upside-down bowl in the bottom of the pot).
Cut the squash into 1-inch-thick rounds or into quarters, and discard the seeds and stringy bits (no need to peel). Place the squash, flesh side down, in the larger steamer basket, along with 4 or 5 slices of ginger; cover and steam for 15 to 20 minutes or until the flesh is tender. (After 10 minutes, check the water level in the pot and add water as needed.)
Meanwhile, place the apples in the smaller steamer basket, or insert in the second pot along with 3 or 4 slices of ginger; cover and steam for 15 minutes or until the apples have almost disintegrated.
Transfer the apples to a large mixing bowl, discarding the ginger. Transfer the steamer basket or insert with the squash to the sink, discarding the ginger; let cool until just warm enough to handle, then use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the pieces and add to the bowl. Discard the squash peel.
Use a potato masher or an immersion (stick) blender to puree the mixture to the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the orange zest and ground ginger or cinnamon; mix well. Stir in the butter (to taste) in several additions, tasting as you go.
Serve warm; or let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to reheat before serving.
Adapted from a Marian Morash recipe in "The Oldways Table," by K. Dun Gifford and Sara Baer-Sinnott (Ten Speed Press, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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