Throughout my childhood, I remember tending to a massive half-acre size garden that was abundant with all the glorious flavors of fall. Now in my adulthood, I have found I tend to shy away from the typical fall squashes like acorn and butternut. Perhaps, I overdosed on freshness in my youth. So when Joan in Michigan asked me to share some of my favorite grilled butternut squash recipes, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to become reacquainted with the world of squash.
Sadly, living in a second floor condo means my access to a grill is quite nonexistent, and my poor George Foreman is on its last leg. The next logical solution you ask? I turned to my trusty oven for support with this recipe. One of the most interesting findings I discovered while researching roasted butternut squash recipes were most required a long cooking time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to wait 45 – 50 minutes for a SIDE DISH. Steaming in the microwave came to my rescue. Just cover the cut squash in a microwave safe bowl with plastic wrap and “steam” them while I prepared the other ingredients.
This side is sweet and flavorful. I also found this dish is all about textures and color. I encourage you to consider this recipe as a foundation for customization. Don’t like pecans? No problem. Just substitute them for a nut of your choice. It’s the crunch that matters. Want to add tartness to balance the sweetness of the apples? Then throw in a ½ – 1 cup of dried cranberries or currents. It’s yours to play.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Apples
2 lbs. (1 lg.) butternut squash, peeled and small cubed
2 cups granny smith apples, peeled and medium cubed
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbl. cinnamon
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup whole pecans
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave the squash on high for 6 – 8 minutes.
In a separate large bowl toss the butter, lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and pecans until evenly coated. Next add the semi-cooked squash to the apple mixture and toss lightly.
Spread the mixture onto a 9” X 13” baking pan, and top with the crumbled blue cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes until the squash and apples are tender.
Authors Note: The baking time may vary based on how tender the squash becomes in the microwaving process. Since the squash is denser than the apples, if you tried to bake them from raw at the same time, the apples will breakdown to applesauce before the squash is fully cooked. Not a pretty thought.