Thanksgiving is coming, so we’ll be posting Turkey Day related posts from now until T-day.
So I’ve waxed poetic about mashed potatoes. But on to the “other” potato: the sweet potato. For me, it’s not Thanksgiving without a marshmallow covered sweet potato casserole. Goodness knows how my Korean mother learned how to make one, but learn she did. And for that, I’m eternally thankful. But growing up, my best friend Ashley’s family (where I’d go for a second Thanksgiving dinner), treated sweet potatoes a little differently. They would bake them whole and then serve them up with butter and brown sugar. While I don’t advocate for sweet potatoes to be served sans marshmallows on Thanksgiving, I guess this is an ok alternative…
So. What does this all have to do with squash? Well, this recipe for acorn squash always reminds me of eating sweet potatoes at Ashley’s. Baked with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, you get that same rich, sweet, satisfying flavor. Add a bit of heat with cayenne and a bit of nutmeg and it turns into a somewhat sophisticated side dish perfect for Thanksgiving or any other time.
1 acorn squash, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch (1/8 teaspoon) cayenne pepper
Pinch (1/8 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash cavities and discard. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. (If you’re like me and didn’t soften the butter or have hard, clumpy brown sugar, microwave everything for about 15-30 seconds.) Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve 1 half per person.
Alternatively, I’ve included a recipe for baked butternut squash that is a welcome addition to any harvest table. You can get creative here and add any other root veggies you’d like (parsnips, carrots, beets, rutabaga, etc.). The key to this recipe is to dice all the vegetables the same size. Leftover roasted vegetables also make a great base for a soup. Heat in a pot of chicken or vegetable stock and then blend everything with an immersion blender and you have instant soup. I like to add a bit of curry powder for a unique flavor and drizzle in some half and half or cream before serving.
oven roasted butternut squash
1 butternut squash (1-2 lbs.), peeled, and seeded
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 medium onion, large dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried herbs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut all the vegetables into a 1-inch dice. Try to keep everything as uniform as possible. Toss the vegetables in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil and rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again to mix. Spread the vegetables out evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.