Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Butternut Squash & Cranberries... sans butter 'n cream, okay? Keep real and simple.

Keep it real, keep it simple, stick to the integrity of...of..., for example, butternut squash! There is NO NEED to butcher its naturally sweet nutty deliciously rich flavor with cream and butter, or maple syrup! None of that, okay?


butternut squash, olive oil, salt & pepper, 1 cup dried cranberries
(cookie sheet, parchment paper)

(1) Preheat the oven to Bake 450 degrees. I use a big chef knife and cutting board (and strong arm) to peel the thin hard (so hard, be careful!) outside skin off. People use a peeler, but it doesn't work for me when dealing with big heavy tough skin. First, cut a flat bottom. Then start cutting down from the top. Then cut it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds (toss).
(2) Cut the thick, solid flesh into small like-size pieces. I like to cut the squash into long sharp irregular pieces for a "home-cut" look.
(3) In a large bowl, toss enough olive oil to evenly coat each piece. Because I'm so tactile, I prefer to use my hands over a big spatula or tongs to toss. And, because I like to keep my hands oil-free (and my manicured fingernails in nice, chip-free shape), I have an endless supply of surgical gloves in the kitchen drawer. (Costco's nitrile exam gloves, latex-free. Buy it. Use it.)
(4) Over a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, spread the pieces evenly, trying to squeeze it all in at one layer. It's okay if some pieces overlap. I also add salt and pepper evenly before putting it into the oven.
(5) Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The goal is to have the butternut chunks to be more on the denser raw side (vs all mushy and overcooked) with a darker brownish black tips.
(6) When you pull the tray out and immediately add more salt and fresh pepper (while very hot os it absorbs quickly for a fresh taste). Add/toss in the dried cranberries. Pile neatly on a plate and serve. This is a great side dish to everything! It is the perfect dish to bring to a potluck, as it is beautiful and delicious. It reheats well in the oven, microwave or on a pan.
Vibrant orange and burgundy provide BURST of color. So FALL. Because of the unusual cut - the irregular strips - people mistake for mango all the time.

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