Roasted butternut squash with hazelnut butter and pomegranates
As much as I missed summer, fall produce kind of makes me forget about it eventually. This is late fall squash season and butternut, acorn, delicata, buttercup and more are piled high on the stands at the markets. I do my share to support local producers so I buy a lot of them. They look lovely on the counter, waiting their turn to be cooked, bringing a seasonal element and beautiful shapes and colour to the kitchen. But of course they are meant to be cooked.
The simplest preparation is to cut them into wedges, rounds or simply in half, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of brown sugar, then roast at 400F until soft. This is my standard to go recipe and they make a beautiful, seasonal accompaniment to any dish, or for us, they are the dish. You can also scrape out the flesh and serve as squash puree or make a soup with it.
For this recipe I made a nut butter from hazelnuts and it complimented the squash nicely with both flavour and texture. I cut the butternut squash in half but you could cut it into rounds, or slice the halves horizontally so you get more pieces out of it. We enjoyed this dish with a spoon, scooping out the flesh straight from the shell. The textural element was also enhance by the pomegranate seeds that also add a bit of tartness to an other wise sweet dish.
Trick to cutting squash:
Because of their hard exterior sometime they are hard to cut. Put the whole squash in the microwave for 2 minutes or so (depending on the strength of your microwave). This will soften the outer shell just enough so a knife can be inserted easier.
1 butternut squash, smallish size for two people
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 pomegranate, seeded
1/2 cup granola
Salt and pepper as needed.
Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. You can discard the seeds or clean them and roast with a bit of oil and salt.
Brush the flesh of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar for each half squash.
Roast in a preheated 400F oven until done. check by inserting a knife into the thick part. I like them a little golden and caramelized in places.
To serve: place on a plate, half per person, place a scoop of hazelnut butter into the round cavity, sprinkle all over with pomegranate seeds and a spoonful of granola for texture.
2 cups hazelnuts, unpeeled
Toast hazelnut on a baking sheet in 350F oven until they are fragrant and begin to turn golden.
Let cool, then process in a food processor until you reach the texture you want, kind of like peanut butter but not as smooth. It should reach a spredable consistency. you may have to stop the processor and scrape down the sides a few times before it’s done.