Well THAT was a long hiatus! It’s been a hectic summer, but now I’m back for the holiday season and will post more regularly, so do check back in!
A couple of weekends ago, we invited David’s colleague over for dinner. I had come across a roasted butternut squash recipe on the Bon Appétit website that I wanted to try, so I thought the dinner party would be a good occasion. Squash and pumpkin are deeply associated with autumn foods, and for good reason – they’re in season and are delicious! They’re the perfect comfort vegetables as the temperature dips — they take on spices well, and have a lovely natural sweetness to them. We love butternut squash, but usually, we end up making soup with it instead of roasting it. For the dinner, I was going to make Cornish hens, so I was looking for a “starch” side dish that wasn’t too heavy. This recipe looked good, and I also liked that it could be made ahead because the dish is served at room temperature. I am a big believer that, when hosting a dinner party, the more dishes that could be made ahead, the better; that way, I can mingle and be more social while the hot components of the dinner are finishing up.
The result? David has declared that butternut squash roasted and tossed together with spicy onions is now his favorite way to eat butternut squash! What really makes the dish is the spicy onions with lime zest, chili, and hint of honey. This spicy onion concoction really brightens the sweetness of the squash. Also, the textures are wonderful: the tenderness of the squash, the crunch of the hazelnuts, the softness of the tangy goat cheese, the aromatic freshness of mint and parsley. I made a few tweaks on the original recipe: I used fresh serrano chili instead of crushed red pepper, because we have chili still growing in our garden; I also used thyme instead of marjoram, because I have thyme in the garden but no marjoram. I had never blanched hazelnuts, but Googled it and found an easy method on eHow (here’s the LINK). I found that the squash took longer to cook than was outlined in the original recipe, but it could be that I didn’t slice the squash quite to size. It’s best to do a fork check — if it goes through the squash easily, then they’re ready! (Full disclosure: As can be seen in the photo, I forgot to “coarsely” chop the hazelnuts — which would be better — but it still worked out fine.)
I LOVE this recipe. It’s a great party side dish, it’s delicious as well as pretty!
P.S. I have since made a further modified, much simplified version of the recipe, with just the squash and onion mixture, skipping the cheese and hazelnuts. And that was fantastic, too.
Below is my adaptation of the Bon Appétit recipe.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH w/SPICY ONIONS (adapted from Bon Appétit recipe found HERE)
INGREDIENTS FOR SPICY ONIONS
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
- 2 serrano chili, finely minced
- 1 tsp finely grated lime zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 cup blanched hazelnuts, coarsely chopped.
- 2 large butternut squash (about 4 lbs), peeled, seeded, slice 1/4 inch thick
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp choppd fresh thyme
- 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, stirring often, until slightly charred and softened but not falling apart. Add the serrano chilis, toss to combine. Remove pan from hear and mix in lime juice and honey. Let cool, then mix in zest. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sqush and 1/4 cup olive oil in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper. Divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets/pans lined with parchment paper. Reserve bowl. Roast, undisturbed, until tender, 20-25 minutes.
Return squash to bowl. Add hazelnuts, parsley, mint, thyme, and spicy onions, and toss to combine.
Transfer squash mixture to a large serving platter, crumble goat cheese over. Drizzle with olive oil (optional).