Our most recent produce box contained two 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, in soup, etc.) and also because it did not sound like a lot of work to make (because I can be rather lazy.)
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.
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 that cooked in some chicken stock for extra flavor.
Here's the basic recipe -- I have not included amounts below since 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
* Butternut squash
* Butter (could substitute coconut oil if you're trying to avoid dairy, I suspect it would work well)
* Brown sugar and/or maple syrup
* Ground cinammon, cloves, nutmeg, mace (I'd go heaviest on the cinammon)
* Dash of 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 sscoop 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 cinammon and serve plain or topped with candied pecans. You can easily make this ahead of time and reheat it.
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