Without the intent of overselling this simple, seasonal side dish, I will mention that my husband recently purchased some winter squash so that I would make this recipe.
Initially, I thought his purchase seemed odd, as he’s not particularly fond of orange vegetables. But he remembered this recipe from last fall － and suggested I mention here that he is quite a fan!
Easy to make with few ingredients, this recipe will complement nearly any protein and will effortlessly perk up a simple weeknight dinner. The healthy and satisfying side is equally perfect alongside a Thanksgiving turkey.
For easy last-minute assembly, cut the squash earlier in the day and store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge until ready to cook.
Tip: If you haven’t tried kabocha squash, keep an eye out for it. The flavor is naturally sweeter than many varieties of winter squash and the texture is dense yet creamy. As an added perk, the skins are edible. They soften as they cook － becoming a little crisp around the edges － and provide a nice textural balance to the smooth flesh.
- 1 winter squash (2 – 2 1/2 pounds; kabocha, delicata, or acorn squash all work well; see notes)
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (may substitute honey)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (may substitute olive oil)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a baking sheet and set aside.
Cut the squash into wedges (about 1 – 1 1/2-inch thick) and place in a large bowl. (see notes)
In a small bowl, mix all other ingredients. Pour the mixture over the squash, and toss to evenly coat. (I find this easiest to do with my hands. I also prefer to do this in a bowl instead of directly on the baking sheet. With a bowl, it is easier to get more of the topping on the squash and less residue on the baking sheet where it becomes harder to clean once baked.)
Spread the squash pieces, cut sides down, in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes or until just tender. Precise time will depend on oven and thickness of pieces. Use a sharp knife to test for doneness. Look for a golden brown color on the side touching the baking sheet and a hint of firmness remaining in the squash.
- I adore the use of coconut oil in this recipe. It creates great flavor and aroma without tasting overtly of coconut. A hint of pure maple syrup is delightful as well, but honey and olive oil may be used in place of these ingredients.
- A sharp chef’s knife makes cutting winter squash easier. However, if you struggle to do this, you may microwave or bake the whole squash just long enough to slightly soften. Pierce the skin with a knife first. In this case, simply adjust the later baking time down slightly.