Spicy-Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash
Current mood = this super-catchy Bollywood song that I am OBSESSED with right now. Ahhh! Turn the volume up and dance! Carefree / bold / emotional / fearless / goofy / jumpy.
And to extend my current mood, this dish has all the makings of a last-minute recipe idea. It has ingredients that can be easily found at any store, a method that is literally chop > season > roast > garnish (with candied walnuts!) > serve, and flavors that make it a melange of quintessential autumn-y, bold, yet warming & comforting notes that at the same time, never over-power any main dish you’d couple it with. With brown sugar and cumin powder as some of the seasonings, I love that the spices I used are a fun blend of Indian and typically non-Indian flavors.
Make it a topping to your not-so-boring desk lunch salad OR… make it a punchy side-dish to your upcoming Thanksgiving feast, or potluck dinner party! Invited to your to-be mom-in-law’s house and you want to impress her? Bring this dish. Invited to potluck with your new set of friends? Bring this dish. Invited to your boyfriend’s gracious and welcoming friends’ home? Bring. this. dish!
Ok. Enough selling. Here’s my easy recipe. Make it and tell me if you like it as much as I do! (Serves about 8-10 people as a side dish)
You will need:
- 2 medium-large butternut squash
- 4 tbsp good quality extra-virgin Olive Oil. I used some trippy garlic-infused oil from Mr. Trader Joes
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried thyme (my new fave herb)
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp coriander or cilantro seed powder
- Flavored walnuts to garnish – chopped roughly
- This is my favorite – 1 tsp La Chinata smoked Paprika powder. Or, you can use regular paprika powder, or chili powder. Either will do.
La Chinata paprika powder is THE BEST purchase I made at my recent trip to Spain. The paprika is the highest quality and the smoky flavor has amped up all my dishes lately. Yum! Unfortunately they don’t export to the States but I have enough of a stash to last me before my next trip to Europe.
Set the oven to pre-heat at 375F. Use your biceps, triceps and forearms well to clean, peel, then chop the Butternut squash in 2 inch cubes with a good sharp knife. If the idea of cutting up a squash stresses you, get the already chopped up variety from the store. I usually find them too small-cut, so I prefer doing my own prep.
Nifty tip: After cutting the squash in manageable chunks, I pop them in the microwave for upto 2 mins. This softens them and makes them easier to peel. Make sure you let the squash cool before handling!
In a large bowl, add all the olive oil, spices and seasonings, and mix well. Then pop all the chopped squash in it, get your hands in, and mix everything really well to make sure every piece is coated with the oil and spice mixture.
Prep a large baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Spread the squash evenly, without crowding the pieces. Use another tray if needed. Then bake in the 375F oven for 30 mins or until all the squash is cooked. If you like yours more crunchy, continue to bake on 400F for another 5 mins to get a golden-brown color.
Empty the cooked squash into a serving dish. Then garnish with any spicy or lightly candied walnuts. I used the lightly flavored walnuts from Trader Joes. Serve and enjoy!