For most of my life, I didn’t like squash. Turns out, what I really didn’t like was mushy, lumpy, baby food-like squash. Once I discovered the wonders of roasting vegetables, my relationship with squash changed dramatically.
There’s nothing like a bite of roasted squash, wonderfully caramelized and textured on the outside where the cube was in contact with the baking sheet, and buttery soft on the inside. Add the fragrance and flavour of olive oil and chopped garlic or onions, some freshly ground pepper and a bit of salt to brighten everything up, and voila, vegetable heaven.
This recipe (actually, it’s more of a suggestion than a recipe) is pretty versatile, too, when it comes to cooking temperatures and times. If you have something else in the oven, then just adjust the cooking time shorter or longer depending on the temperature that’s set.
We had it tonight with prime rib (usually a special-occasion dish, but I found it on sale for $3-something a pound and couldn’t resist), potatoes and a simple salad of tomatoes and cucumber. Here’s how you can make it next time you’re looking for an easy and tasty vegetable side dish.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and peel a butternut squash. Cut into slices about an inch thick, then cut each slice into cubes. Toss onto the baking sheet. (Tossing is important, it makes cooking more playful.) Until now I’ve always roughly chopped a couple of garlic cloves and strewn them over the squash, but today I decided to go a bit on the wild side and try something new. So, I cut three small shallots into thick slices and added them instead. (I know, pretty out there, eh?) Who knows, next time I just may use garlic and shallots – woo hoo! Drizzle one to two tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables, generously grind some pepper over, and add about a half teaspoon or so of kosher salt. Using your hands, toss everything together, and slide the tray into the oven. After about 30 minutes, turn the squash over, and roast for another 20 0r 30 minutes, until perfectly done to your liking. Sometimes, if I want them to colour faster, I’ll turn on the convection fan in the oven.
Roasting squash this way has converted numerous guests at my table from squash avoiders to squash enthusiasts. You’ll just have to see for yourself!