October 11, 2010

Squash with a Twist

By the time we got home from work today, Juli and I were both pretty exhausted.  I decided I wasn't in the mood to cook the meal I'd planned to cook for tonight (a pair of curry dishes, one with pork meatballs, one with tomatoes and beans).  I wanted something easier and more laid-back.  Juli hit on the idea of having some of the leftover chicken and noodles she made last night, which sounded great to me, but that left a question of what to have with the chicken and noodles.

Looking at what we had available, I quickly settled on squash of some sort, then narrowed it down to butternut.  Then the question was, what to do with it?

Juli and I both looked through some cookbooks for quick ideas, and she was the one who found a recipe that sounded petty good, one called Gingered Winter Squash with Pecans and Cranberries from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C Ralston, Marynor Jordan and Andrea Chesman.  There were parts of that recipe we liked, plus a couple we weren't so wild about, and we didn't have some of the ingredients, but it provided some inspiration.  After some thought, we decided on a mix of fruit, rather than just the dried cranberries in the original recipe, but we still needed to come up with a topping.  Juli had the brilliant idea of crushing up one of the Ginger Snap cookies I made recently.  I added a final touch to that idea and we were ready to go.

It turned out great - a nice contrast with the simple, chewy noodles and hearty chicken broth, and sweet enough to count as much as a dessert as a main course.  I did the cooking, but primary credit for this one goes to Juli.  We enjoyed it a lot.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Ginger-Spice Butternut Squash with Fruit and Pecans

1     large butternut squash
2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2     tablespoons pure maple syrup
1     teaspoon ground ginger
1/2  cup chopped pecans
1     tablespoon golden raisins
1     tablespoon dried cherries
1     tablespoon dried cranberries
2     tablespoons apple juice (or cider, if you prefer)
1/4  teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1     ginger snap cookie, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Peel the squash, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy fibers and cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes.  Combine the squash cubes, melted butter, maple syrup and ginger in a large bowl; toss to coat.  Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet or large, shallow pan.

Roast the squash for 30 minutes, turning twice during that time so the squash cooks evenly.

While the squash is roasting, arrange the chopped pecans in a small pan.  Roast for 10 minutes or until fragrant.  Remove the pecans from the oven and set them aside.

Combine the fruit in a small bowl with the juice (or cider) and microwave 30 seconds to soften.

When the squash is finished cooking, transfer it to a bowl.  Add the pecans and fruit and toss to mix.  Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice and the cookie crumbs and serve.

1 comment:

  1. In case you're curious about what Jeffrey changed from the original recipe, we thought apple juice sounded a lot tastier than the wine that the original called for. I think apple cider would be even better! He also added the final dusting of pumpkin pie spice.

    Also, the original recipe called for crystallized ginger to be sprinkled on top. We would probably have to do quite a search to find that ingredient! I've tasted it before, and wasn't impressed. We did have homemade spicy ginger snap cookies on hand, though, and the crushed cookie crumbs add a nice flavor to the finished squash. If you don't have any around, no worries- just leave that part out.

    This dish will definitely make an appearance at our Thanksgiving table. You can cook the squash and roast the pecans the day before Turkey Day. Then just reheat, add your pecans and soaked dried fruit right before serving time. Fast and easy! :)