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An anytime side that can also be the star of a holiday meal

We love winter squash prepared the familiar way: sprinkled with brown sugar and dotted with butter, then roasted until it’s tender and sweet. It’s comforting, but not all that inspiring.
For a savory take, and one that would produce a dish that would earn a spot on the table whether it was a chilly weeknight or a Thanksgiving spread, we took inspiration from London-based Chef Yotam Ottolenghi. He slices the squash (skin and all) into thin half-moons to create more surface area for browning. And rather than add more sweetness, he tosses the roasted squash with savory ingredients, which serve as a surprisingly successful foil to the squash’s natural sweetness.

We were smitten with this approach, but we knew we wanted to put our own spin on it. Our first move was to lose the skin. Our next was to find ways to get ultimate caramelization on both sides of the squash slices. To do that, we placed the sheet on the lowest oven rack instead of in the middle. On the lowest rack, it absorbed even more heat from the main heating element on the oven’s floor. We then flipped the squash (and rotated the baking sheet) partway through roasting so that both sides could caramelize.
The other key to better browning was the fat we used. Instead of tossing the squash with olive oil, we used melted butter, whose milk proteins undergo the Maillard reaction. These slices emerged deeply caramelized, wonderfully sweet and tender.
A combination of goat cheese, pecans and maple syrup made a perfect savory topping for our simple yet presentation-worthy side dish.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Recipe by America’s Test Kitchen
Servings

4-6

servings

We love winter squash prepared the familiar way: sprinkled with brown sugar and dotted with butter, then roasted until it’s tender and sweet. It’s comforting, but not all that inspiring.

For a savory take, and one that would produce a dish that would earn a spot on the table whether it was a chilly weeknight or a Thanksgiving spread.

Ingredients

  • 1 large (2 1/2- to 3-pound) butternut squash

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1/3 cup)

  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions

  • For the squash:
  • Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 425 F. Using a sharp vegetable peeler or chef’s knife, remove the skin and fibrous threads from the squash just below the skin (peel until the squash is completely orange with no white flesh remaining, roughly 1/8 inch deep). Halve the squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice crosswise 1/2 inch thick.
  • Toss the squash with melted butter, salt and pepper until evenly coated. Arrange the squash on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast the squash until the side touching the sheet toward the back of the oven is well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the side touching the sheet toward the back of the oven is well browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and use a metal spatula to flip each piece. Continue to roast until the squash is very tender and the side touching sheet is browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  • For the topping:
  • While the squash roasts, stir maple syrup and cayenne together in small bowl.
  • Transfer the squash to large serving platter. Drizzle maple mixture evenly over the squash. Sprinkle with goat cheese, pecans and thyme and serve.

Notes

  • For plain roasted squash omit the topping. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. For the best texture it’s important to remove the fibrous flesh just below the squash’s skin.
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