Panko Crusted Butternut Squash
I came across a recipe recently that I really wanted to try. It was for Panko crusted leek rounds – unusual, but it looked delicious. I’ve Panko crusted almost everything, but not leeks, so I was looking forward to trying it. As is inevitably the case, we couldn’t find leeks in any of the three grocery stores we passed this morning. It’s really cold here in Vermont right now, and that made the thought of squash really appealing, so we grabbed a small butternut squash instead. It worked out really well. The trick for making most crusted vegetables is to cook them to the point of just being cooked – firm enough that it holds together well, but not at all raw – before breading them. Then it’s just 30-60 seconds in some hot oil and they’re done! I cooked the squash with some garlic and a mix of fresh herbs. I happened to find a mix pack of ‘poultry blend’ herbs (thyme, savory, rosemary and sage), so I used some of each to help flavour the squash. If you don’t have them, you can just use one herb, or even leave them out. The flavour they added was subtle, but nice. I saved the cooking broth to make a flavourful base for a soup. Two for one!
We came across Wayfare Sour Cream for the first time and we were really pleased with the flavour and the texture. A big improvement over Tofutti’s sour cream, that’s for sure. I thought a nice, tangy dip would be a great contrast for the earthy sweetness of the squash. Next time get my hands on some leeks, I’m going to try the same technique with them. I’ll post that recipe too and link to it here. Stay tuned!
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- The ‘neck’ of a small butternut squash, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced ½-inch thick
- 2 cloves garlic, flattened
- Several sprigs of fresh herbs like thyme, savoury, rosemary and sage. I came across a mixed pack in a local store and used a large sprig of each.
- 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 4 tablespoons water
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup non-dairy sour cream, we used Wayfare brand
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 ½ tablespoon chopped capers
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Vegetable oil to cook the squash
- In a medium pot, add the squash and enough water to cover by ½-inch. Add the garlic and herbs, as well as a generous three-finger pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until the squash is just cooked, but not falling apart. Around 10-12 minutes. Carefully remove it to a plate to cool to room temperature. Strain and save the cooking liquid for use in a soup, it’s tasty!
- Make the dip by combining the sour cream, onion, capers, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.
- Combine the chickpea flour and water in a small bowl. Place the Panko crumbs in another bowl nearby.
- One piece at a time, dip a piece of the squash into the chickpea flour mix. Once coated, transfer to the Panko crumbs and coat well. Set the coated squash piece aside and repeat with the remaining.
- Heat a medium pan over medium to medium high heat until hot. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Place the crusted squash pieces in the pan, leaving some space between them. You will likely need to do this in two, or even three batches, depending on the size of the pan.
- After around 30 seconds, check on the colour of the Panko. You’re looking for a nice, deep golden. When you’ve reached that, carefully flip the squash pieces and cook on the other side until you’ve reached the same colour. Add more oil if needed.
- Remove the squash from the pan and transfer to a piece of paper towel, or lint-free towel, to absorb any oil. Season with a little salt.
- Repeat with the remaining squash.