This recipe comes from wanting to do something a little different with butternut squash.  Winter time is the season when you get all of your different varieties of squash.  I didn't just want to make a soup, or risotto, or salad.  I tried to use the butternut in a few different ways to explore the textures and flavors.  In one case I used it like a protein.  This is a fun starter and one that I used as an opener recently at the  Dinner Lab dinner I did at the end of January.  That version of the recipe I used a roasted orange sauce and this one is a roasted lemon sauce.  Either one works well.  This recipe is definitely has a few steps that can be done ahead of time.   Here is the recipe I hope you enjoy

2 Large long straight butternut squash peeled

2 tbsp of cumin powder

2 tsp of butter

2 tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Ricotta

3 cups milk

1 cup of cream

4 tbsp of lemon juice

2 tsp of salt


Roasted Lemon Sauce

8 lemons washed and dried

2 star anise pieces, 2 cinnamon stick, 

200g of pulp

50 g sugar

5 g agar

1/8 cup of olive oil

1 lemon zested and juiced 

touch of simple syrup 


Butternut "butter"

12 oz of small diced butternut squash scraps  (use scraps or bottoms of butternut)

3/4 cup of sugar

1 1/2 tsp of 5 spice

1 tsp of salt


1 cup of shaved butternut for frying

Red sorrel to garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees

For the roasted lemon sauce

divide the 8 lemons into 2 groups of 4.  Take a large square piece of aluminum foil and place the 4 lemons in the middle with 1 of each of the spices.  Wrap tightly.  Then wrap the whole bundle again and place on a sheet pan.  Repeat the same process with the remaining 4 lemons.  Then place in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until tender.  Take out and let it cool for 15 minutes.  Then unwrap the lemons and cut them in half.  Get a bowl with a fine mesh strainer that fits easily in the bowl.  Then scoop out the lemon pulp into the strainer (reserving the rinds).  Mash the lemon pulp through the strainer into the bowl.  Repeat with the remaining lemons.  Then take half of the lemon rinds that you have scooped out and clean away any of the white membrane.  You can use a knife to cut it away or even the back of your knife sometimes can scrap it away easily.  Once you have half of the roasted rinds cleaned place in a blender with lemon pulp and sugar.  Puree until smooth.  Then place in a pot with agar and bring to a boil.  Cook for 3 minutes and then turn off the heat.  Allow to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Then place back in the blender with lemon juice and zest.  While blender is on add olive oil and a touch of simple syrup if needed.  Adjust seasoning and set aside.

For the butternut.

Take the peeled butternut squash and cut into 2 or 3  1inch pieces in length depending on the size of the butternut squash.  You should have 5 to 6 inch rounds or sections of butternut squash.  Take 4 of those slices and turn them flat on their round side.  With an apple corer, core out as many cylinders out of each round that you can.  Again it all depends on how big the butternut is.  Place the cylinder in a cryovac bag with butter, olive oil, and cumin powder.  Place in a water bath  at 155 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until tender.  Take out and cool to room temperature.   Meanwhile with remaining 2 rounds of butternut squash, trim all the sides to have a 1 by 1 inch block.  Then with a mandolin try and shave the butternut squash almost paper thin.  Continue until you have both pieces shaved.  Then in a pot of boiling salted water, blanch the shaved pieces of butternut squash for 1-2 seconds. With a spider scoop them out onto a sheet pan to cool.  Literally in the water and out.  Set aside until later.  With the scraps dice up for the butternut "butter"

For the butter, 

Take 12 oz of scraps and place in a small pot with 1 1/4 cup of water and salt.  Boil for 10 minutes until most of the water is gone and the butternut is softened.  Then add sugar and 5 spice and cook for another 10 minutes.  Adjust the season if need be and puree with a hand immersion blender.  Cool and set aside.

For the lemon ricotta

Place milk and cream in a pot with salt. Bring to 190 degrees and then add lemon juice and stir twice.  Let it sit for 25 minutes and then strain through a cheese cloth.  Adjust the seasoning if needed.  Place in a pastry bag and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Then take out and lay the blanched paper thin butternut squash pieces flat on the surface.  Take the pastry bag with ricotta and pipe a line of cheese across the butternut squash pieces.  Then roll up the pieces like a cannoli or cigar.  Continue until all are filled and rolled.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

With a peeler take the bottoms or any other left over scraps and peel paper thin strips of butternut squash.  Then in a small pot with oil at 315 degrees lightly fry the butternut squash until golden brown.  Skim off butternut squash on to a paper towel and season with salt.  

To finish,

In a saute pan on medium heat add the butternut cylinders and some of the cooking liquid into the pan.  Season with salt and just warm through.  Then on the plate add a spoonful of the lemon sauce.  Take 2 cannoli's and cut them in half.  Stand each half up on the lemon sauce.  Then add two cylinders of butternut squash.  Add a quenelle of butternut "butter".  Finish with fried butternut squash, sorrel leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. In later variation of the dish I add pumpkin seeds, with pumpkin seed oil for added flavor.  Serve and enjoy!