As the leaves begin to don their vibrant autumn hues and the air carries a crispness that whispers of the changing seasons, my thoughts invariably turn to the comforting flavors that define fall. It’s Ellen Allard here, from Foodies of New England, and today I’m eager to share with you a recipe that has become a cherished part of my autumnal repertoire: Maple Roasted Butternut Squash.
This dish is a heartfelt ode to New England’s bountiful harvest, where the butternut squash reigns as a beloved staple. There’s something deeply satisfying about roasting this humble vegetable; its transformation in the oven from a solid gourd to a caramelized delight is a kind of culinary magic that never ceases to amaze me.
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 sheet pan
- 1 Small butternut squash; peeled seeds removed, cubed (about 1 pound.)
- 1 Medium onion chopped
- 1 Medium carrot chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 Small potato peeled and chopped
- 1-2 fl oz maple syrup depending on how much you like… and please: the real stuff only!
- 1 fl oz apple cider vinegar
- 2 ½ cups water
- 4 lb heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt to taste
- Tabasco to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin to cook the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic over medium high heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
- Toss the cubed squash in the maple syrup spices, coating evenly. Spread out onto a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Take care to not burn the syrup. If it becomes too thick, add roughly a tablespoon of water and mix. The syrup should be a happy glaze on the squash.
- Once the vegetables—namely the carrots—can be easily cut with a spoon, add half of the vinegar (reserving the other half for later), followed by the potatoes, water and the roasted squash. Use another tablespoon or so of water to deglaze the bottom of the roasting pan. Don’t lose any of that precious maple!
- Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the potatoes are cooked through, puree with the remaining vinegar, heavy cream, and season to your liking with salt and Tabasco.
- Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread warmed in the oven.
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash is a dish that exudes the essence of autumn. The process of roasting transforms the humble squash into something truly special, with the maple syrup adding a layer of warmth and sweetness that complements the natural flavor of the squash beautifully.
When selecting a butternut squash for roasting, one should look for a squash that feels solid and heavy, with a matte skin free from soft spots. Peeling and cutting the squash can be a meditative experience; there’s a certain satisfaction in peeling back the tough exterior to reveal the vibrant orange flesh within.
The act of tossing the cubed squash in a mixture of maple syrup, olive oil, and perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, feels like an invitation to the coming cooler weather. The spices mingle with the maple syrup, creating an aroma that can make the kitchen feel like a cozy haven. As the squash roasts in the oven, it caramelizes at the edges, which not only deepens the flavor but also adds a delightful textural contrast to the tender interior.
Roasting the squash until it reaches that perfect point of caramelization where the edges are just crisped, while the inside remains fork-tender, requires patience and attention. It’s a gentle reminder that good things come to those who wait. The transformation in the oven is almost magical, as the heat coaxes out the squash’s natural sugars and the maple syrup works its sweet charm.
The Best Way to Serve Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
Serving a Maple Roasted Butternut Squash dish is an opportunity to celebrate the coziness and warmth that food can bring into our lives, particularly during the cooler months. As you take the squash out of the oven, there’s a comforting aroma that fills the kitchen, hinting at the sweet, nutty flavors developed through roasting. The caramelized edges of the squash pieces, tinged with golden-brown, are a visual promise of the delicious taste to come.
When it comes time to present the dish, consider using a serving bowl or platter that contrasts with the vibrant orange hue of the squash, making the dish stand out as the star of the table. The act of spooning the tender squash onto plates can be a gentle reminder of the changing seasons, of the harvest and the simple pleasures that come from cooking with seasonal produce.
Pairing the Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with a main course that complements its rich and slightly sweet profile can be quite satisfying. For instance, a savory herb-crusted roast chicken or a hearty grain pilaf could provide a lovely balance to the meal. The squash, with its velvety texture, acts as a bridge between the other elements on the plate, bringing together different flavors in each forkful.
As Maple Roasted Butternut Squash is shared among diners, there’s a sense of nurturing and contentment that permeates the gathering. Each serving is not just a portion of food but a scoop of warmth, an offering that says ‘enjoy and be well’. The conversation may turn towards appreciation for the simple things, like the beauty of autumnal colors or the joy of a well-cooked meal enjoyed in good company.
In essence, serving Maple Roasted Butternut Squash is about more than just the act of eating; it’s about imparting a feeling of home and heartiness. It’s a dish that encourages slowing down, savoring each bite, and appreciating the moment, whether it’s a quiet dinner on a weeknight or a special occasion with loved ones.
When it comes to a Maple Roasted Butternut Squash recipe, there are several common questions that might arise, reflecting the curiosity and concerns of those looking to perfect this dish. Here are some thoughtful answers to potential FAQs:
- What is the best way to peel and cut butternut squash? Peeling butternut squash can be a bit challenging due to its hard skin. A good vegetable peeler or a sharp chef’s knife can make the task easier. Once peeled, the squash should be cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out, and then chopped into even cubes to ensure uniform cooking. Some might find a sense of accomplishment in mastering the preparation of this gourd, as its transformation from a tough exterior to soft, edible flesh is quite rewarding.
- How can I enhance the natural sweetness of the squash during roasting? Roasting at a high temperature helps caramelize the natural sugars in the squash, bringing out its inherent sweetness. Tossing the cubes with a touch of olive oil, salt, and perhaps a sprinkle of brown sugar or maple syrup before roasting can further accentuate the sweet flavor profile. The aroma of caramelizing Maple Roasted Butternut Squash can be quite comforting, especially in cooler seasons.
- What herbs and spices pair well with Maple Roasted Butternut Squash? Sage, thyme, and rosemary offer earthy notes that complement the squash’s sweetness. For a bit of warmth and complexity, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cumin can be added. Experimenting with different combinations can be an enjoyable process, allowing for personalization of the dish to suit one’s palate.
- Can roasted butternut squash be made ahead of time? Yes, it can be roasted ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days. Reheating in the oven or on the stovetop can help retain its texture and flavor. This can ease the stress of meal preparation, especially when planning for a large dinner or meal prep for the week.
- How can I get my Maple Roasted Butternut Squash to be crispy on the outside? For a crispier exterior, ensure the squash is not overcrowded on the baking sheet, as this can cause it to steam rather than roast. Also, flipping the pieces halfway through the cooking time allows all sides to develop a nice golden-brown crust. The contrast of a crispy exterior with a soft interior can be particularly pleasing to the palate.
In conclusion, the Maple Roasted Butternut Squash is a dish that truly embodies the essence of New England’s culinary spirit. As we’ve explored through the flavors and textures of this comforting recipe, it’s clear that such a simple dish can resonate deeply with the soul of autumnal cooking. The natural sweetness of the butternut squash, enhanced by the rich, caramel notes of maple syrup, creates a harmony that feels like a warm embrace on a crisp fall day.
As we wrap up this blog post, we invite readers to visit Foodies of New England at https://foodiesofnewengland.com/ for more inspiration. There, you’ll find a community that appreciates the simple joy of cooking with local ingredients and the shared pleasure of discovering new flavors. This Maple Roasted Butternut Squash is just a starting point—a gateway to the vast array of dishes that reflect the heart and history of New England cuisine.