It’s no secret that I’m not a warm weather girl. The sun and the beach just don’t appeal to me. Blame it on the fact that I was born in December or, more accurately, blame it on the fact that I was already born with a great tan (haha) and I can’t swim. Even my palate craves the tastes of autumn and winter–I’m more likely to hunker down over a hot bowl of soup than get all giddy for barbecue.
Here on the East coast, the temperature is cooling down and, needless to say, I’m thrilled. That means that my poor oven, which often sat cold and unused during the steamy days of summer, will finally see some action; and even though I’ll be mourning the loss of fresh sweet corn and tomatoes, hearty root vegetables, squash and other comfort food staples will happily take their place.
Because of its versality, butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables (botanically, it’s a fruit) and can be found in abundance in my kitchen in colder months. The following recipe is great as a main or a side dish and, surprisingly, can be transformed into “home fries” for breakfast the morning after with a quick toss in an oiled frying pan.
Thyme-roasted Butternut Squash with Toasted Pecans
2 medium butternut squashes
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ c. pecans, toasted
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, peel squash. Cut lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into medium-sized, uniform cubes for even cooking.
2. In a bowl, add the squash, melted butter, vanilla, red pepper flakes, and thyme (removed from stems) and toss with clean hands. Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer.
3. Roast in oven for approximately 25-30 minutes until squash are tender and caramelized. While squash is cooking, pour pecans in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, shaking pan occasionally to avoid scorching; toast until fragrant about 5 minutes.
4. In a bowl, toss squash with pecans and serve hot.