Sweet and Spicy Squash

ginger, sweet, spicy, squash, butternut-squash, roast, brown-sugar

During the holidays everyone breaks out the 156-ingredients, ultra-rich, butter laminated, white sugar topped, “we only eat this once a year” dish.  It’s too much.  I find myself at a 15-person table searching for the china plate filled with something that I’d eat on a normal day.  I’m not saying the 18-layer cake isn’t mind-blowing.  But an 18-layer cake at every meal?!  No thanks.

We end up in a conundrum each year.  How do we bring something to the party that is wonderful and will earn mad street-cred, while not going overboard?  How to find the balance…?

Sweet and Spicy Squash is a lovely option.  People know as a general rule that it takes a while to make butternut squash into anything (street-cred), and the classic move is butter and brown sugar (crowd pleaser).  This take on roasted squash keeps with the sweetness of brown sugar, but introduces fresh orange juice, red pepper flakes and ground ginger, thus you are in spicy territory.  Boom.  Family impressed, you not wanting to die a little after dinner.

Bonus: citrus = invigorating, ginger = good for digestion; add as big of a “pinch” of pepper flakes as you’d like, just don’t forget that your 90-year-old grandma will be eating it.

2 1/2 Lbs butternut squash
zest + juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon honey, warm in microwave for a few seconds to mix with dressing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

To garnish:
Brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350*F, grease a 9×11″ baking dish.  Wash the outside of squash, cut in half right where it starts to bulb.  Scoop out seeds with a spoon and use a vegetable peeler to remove hard rind.  Careful, it gets slippery.  Cut into 1″ chunks and spread into baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.

A little orange zest
Citrus dressing

In a small bowl, combine orange juice, zest, honey, olive oil, ginger, and pepper flakes.  Pour over squash, give another toss to distribute liquid. Cover with foil, bake for 35 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce the squash.  Uncover, toss, sprinkle with brown sugar and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Finish with a dash of good sea salt to serve.

Keywords: Thanksgiving sides, butternut squash, vegetarian, healthy, light, citrus squash

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