Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash

I’m having a friend over for dinner next weekend and decided on a menu today that will encourage some seasonal eating to celebrate our friendship and to welcome the new fall season. When I say seasonal eating, what I’m really trying to convey is: comfort food. Fall is upon us and my dining choices have already turned into warm and comforting foods. It’s amazing how quickly that shift takes place with the shift in temperature. Butternut squash is a winter squash but its available now and perfect for fall cooking. It has a sweet and nutty flavor and I like that combination.

I’ve decided that the menu for next weekend will consist of an organic lemon-herb roasted chicken, roasted butternut squash with moroccan spices and broccoli with garlic butter and cashews. And for dessert: something pumpkin for sure. I absolutely j’adore all things pumpkin so perhaps a delicious pumpkin pie will be fitting for the season. Chicken for me is like an old friend, someone you’ve known forever and never tire of seeing because their company is always easy and enjoyable.

This fall and winter I’m going to try as much as possible to eat seasonally. Of course I’m not going over board because last time I checked; we don’t grow avocados in Chicago. That being said, I’m not giving up avocados or guacamole. Not now or in any season. I really can’t imagine life without avocados. Yes, I love them that much. Doesn’t everybody??? The wonderful thing about eating seasonally is that food is more flavorful and nutritious and that’s incredibly appealing to me. 

I found a roasted butternut squash recipe on the internet that incorporates a variety of spices. These spices really caught my attention. I've read that roasting concentrates the best flavors in squash. I can’t wait to try this recipe. If you try it, please send me a note and tell me what you think.

Buen Provecho!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Moroccan Spices

4-5 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 T olive oil (or slightly less)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
sea salt, for seasoning cooked squash
Spice Mix (makes enough for 5 batches of roasted veggies):
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 475.
2.) Peel butternut squash with vegetable peeler, cut off ends, and cut squash into cubes about 1 inch square.
3.) Put squash in large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. spice mixture. Stir well to get oil and spices evenly distributed on cut surfaces of the squash.
4.) Spray roasting pan with olive oil or nonstick spray and arrange squash in a single layer. Roast about 40-50 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so. Squash is done when it’s soft and slightly browned on quite a few of the edges.  Season with sea salt, and serve hot. 

This spice mix is also great on other roasted vegetables. Fine Cooking suggests carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips.