Our last produce box of the year contained three large butternut squashes. I hate to admit it, but my initial reaction was far from joyful. Although I love butternut squash, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by all the squash we’ve been receiving and I had already used up all the recipe ideas I was really excited about.
But then, inspiration struck! Why not candy them? You know, like the candied yams or sweet potatoes at a Thanksgiving dinner? This was appealing to me both because the flavor would be different from the way I’d been preparing them (in ravioli, risotto, soup, etc.) and also because it did not sound like a lot of work to make.
So I cut them up (actually, I asked my husband to cut them up for me since it can be kind of challenging), brushed them with olive oil, and roasted them until soft. Here they are waiting to be brushed with oil and put into the oven.
Just a note that handling raw butternut squash can cause a harmless kind of contact dermatitis – you may notice that your skin feels tight and dry afterwards (and your knife may have a whitish film on it that is a little hard to clean.) But it will go away in not too long.
Once they’d roasted, I scooped out the flesh – now a soft, brilliant orange – and mixed it with all sorts of yummy things–butter, maple syrup, a little brown sugar, cinnamon and some cloves.
Although it looked a little yucky, it tasted delicious! I served it as part of a simple-sounding yet delicious meal of braised kale and herbed short grain brown rice.
Here’s the basic recipe — I have included some approximate amounts below but they’ll depend on how sweet or buttery you want the squash to be and also how much squash you end up using. Just taste and adjust as needed.
This would go nicely topped with some candied pecans
Candied Butternut Squash
Serves 4 as a side
* 1 large butternut squash
* 1 Tbsp organic butter (substitute coconut oil if you’re trying to avoid dairy)
* 1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/8 tsp cloves, nutmeg, and/or mace
* 1 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds and strings and brush the flesh lightly with olive oil. Lay the halves flesh-side down on a well-insulated cookie sheet and bake until softened, about 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the squashes.
2. Remove from oven. When cool enough to touch, use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin. Place in a bowl and mash well.
3. Mix in the butter (or coconut oil), brown sugar and/or maple syrup, and spices. If you have heavy cream on hand and are not opposed to dairy, throw a dash of that in, as well – it will make it richer and tastier. Combine well and taste. Adjust spices, sweetening, etc., to taste.
4. Dust with ground cinnamon and serve plain or topped with candied pecans. You can easily make this ahead of time and reheat it.
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