I warned you in my last post that I’ve been overcome with some sort of winter squash obsession. It’s the season, I swear.
Just yesterday, I went out to our garden to harvest all the leftover acorn and butternut squash that haven’t been picked yet. Oddly enough, we actually never planted any of these varieties, but they grew anyway. I think the seeds were in the “not fully composted” compost. While I’m thrilled these things grew at all, it’s unfortunate they got such a late start. Some were ripe and ready to go and others weren’t. Next year, I’ll properly plant these types of seeds in earnest and perhaps we’ll end up with a proper crop.
Today’s recipe creates more of a side dish than a main entree. Of course, you can eat it any way you’d like, but I think it would go better on the side of something. The richness of all the butternut squash, along with the flavor and sweetness of the pepper and maple syrup topping can be too much if you eat, well, too much. It goes great with something else though, so please keep that in mind.
This is a great tasting dish. The squash will fill you up and the toasted pecans add a lot of flavor. The goat cheese is smooth and hits at just the right time. Combine all these ingredients with the maple syrup and cayenne pepper drizzle I just mentioned above and you have yourself something that friends and guests will remember. Also, this dish is fairly simple to put together, so that’s always a plus. I may even include it on our Thanksgiving dinner menu. I like it that much.
Serves: 4 to 6
1 3-Pound Butternut Squash (meaning, 1 squash that weighs around 3 pounds)
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
2 Ounces Goat Cheese, Crumbled
1/3 Cup Pecans, Chopped Coarsely and Toasted
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for this recipe. I pulled it from their excellent resource called The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook and am happy to share it with you today.
Pre-Heat the Oven
To kick things off, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Also adjust one of the racks to the lowest position.
Prep the Squash
Begin by trimming both ends off the squash. Then, peel the skin off completely. Be sure to also remove the white outer layer that reside directly under the skin. All you want to be left is the orange flesh.
Once the squash has been completely peeled, cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Then, slice both halves into 1/2 inch pieces. Once that’s done, place all the pieces in a large bowl with the melted butter, the salt and the pepper. Mix to coat everything well.
Cook the Squash
Arrange the pieces of squash on a baking sheet (or two).
Then, place the baking sheet in the oven for about 30 minutes (on the bottom rack). The goal here is to brown the bottoms of the slices.
About half way through the 30 minutes, rotate the tray from front to back. Once the bottoms are browned, remove the tray from the oven and flip each piece. Place the tray back in the oven for about 15 more minutes until the other side of the pieces are browned. Once they are, remove everything from the oven and turn off heat.
Toast the Pecans
While the butternut squash is cooking, you can toast the pecans. To do this, either chop them or crunch them in your fist and place them in a small skillet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the nuts and warm the pan over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes while swirling the pan around in circles. Only keep over heat until you begin to see them browning as too much heat will burn them.
Prepare the Syrup & Pepper Mixture
After you finish toasting the pecans, you can add the maple syrup to a small bowl along with the cayenne pepper. Simply mix both ingredients together with a fork.
Plate the Dish
Now that everything has been cooked and prepped, you can plate the dish. Arrange the squash slices on a large plate or platter and drizzle the maple syrup mixture over them. Then, sprinkle the dried thyme over everything, along with the pecans and crumbled goat cheese.
The Final Dish
I’m getting hungry just looking at this. Once you plate, the recipe has been completed. If you give this one a try, definitely let me know what you think. I really liked it.