Squash: My Mother’s Favorite Side Dish

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When I was a kid, I HATED squash. Hated the smell, the texture, the taste. The whole experience from beginning to end was nightmare of buttery bland squishiness and yet, my family loved it. I always felt a little left out when my family would ooo and aaah over the savory orange pile on their plates that they couldn’t wait to dive into. Meanwhile, I would be sitting there, holding the fork as far away from me as I could, poking at it like i expected it to spring to life and smother me to death with it’s oozy creaminess.

That was then.

As we grow older, our tastes definitely become more and more sophisticated. The more our palettes experience, the more we find we like, dislike, tolerate or outright loathe. Squash grew on me. It took a long time and it took alot of patience and experimentation on my part.

You name it, I have probably tried it: spaghetti squash, hubbard, acorn and, of course, the dreaded staple of the Thanksgiving Feast: butternut squash. I have experimented with many methods for preparing squash, but today, I want to share my ultimate butternut squash for thanksgiving. After years of experimenting, this concoction is the one that made me a true fan of something I once considered so vile.

ULTIMATE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

You will need:

1 whole butternut squash

2 small baking apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup of water

teaspoon vanilla

fresh ground nutmeg

allspice

fresh ground cinnamon

1/2 stick of butter

1/4 cup cream

pinch kosher salt

pinch of pepper

half lemon, juiced

dried cranberries (optional)

almond slivers for garnish

Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Place it skin side down onto a cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree over for 40 minutes or until it is fork tender. Then turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Place squash halves under broiler for about 5 to 10 minutes. Careful! Don’t let it burn, you only want to bring out more of the sugars in the meat by lightly browning the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the skin from the squash and place the meat in a large mixing bowl. Break down squash with a hand masher or fork. Combine 1/2 stick of butter, pinch of kosher salt (to taste), pinch of pepper (to taste), 1/4 cup of cream and fresh ground nutmeg with squash and mix thoroughly and set aside.

Peel and core the two apples. Roughly chop them into chunks and place in a shallow bowl. Combine with the lemon juice and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, combine the water, sugar and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add apples, ground cinnamon, vanilla and allspice. Simmer on low heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat allow to cool to room temperature.

Add the apple mixture to the squash and combine roughly. You don’t want this to be a smooth mixture, you want it rough and chunky. (Note: you can combine dried cranberries to this at the end if you like) Spoon into a serving dish, garnish with some almond slivers and a little parsley and enjoy.

This single dish, from years of playing around with different  squash recipes, has made me a fan for life. The nutty roasted flavors of the squash right out of the oven combined with the sweet goodness of apples, spices and sugar come together to create a savory side dish that can stand alone as a star all by itself. This side makes a hearty and sweet addition to my Leftovers Shepherds Pie, but thats a post for another time.

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5 responses to “Squash: My Mother’s Favorite Side Dish

  1. Mmmmmm…squash. I’ve been a squash lover from the very beginning – when it came in little jars!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe…I’m gonna try it this year.

    Let me know how it turns out. Or better yet, if you just want to bring it on by, will save me some time.

  2. That sounds really good. I’m looking forward the Shepard’s Pie recipe too (just had that last night for dinner)! But it is good to see other ways of making the same dish to spice things up.

    I want to give the recipes for the entire spread before I go over the Leftover Shepherds Pie… 🙂

  3. I don’t think I really had an opinion about squash but opted to say I didn’t like it. Now I still don’t have an opinion but will opt to buy and eat it occasionally. Maybe my taste buds ARE more sophisticated!

    There are many other ways to prepare it though…one of them you may like… 🙂

  4. Just a note on my own blog: When I use terms like sophisticated and refined, I definitely do NOT mean snooty or that I find some foods beneath me somehow. I hope I never give that impression. What I mean is that you become more aware of your own tastes and preferences and by working to branch out from there, you refine and sophisticate your own tastes. There is nothing I can’t stand more than someone telling me “Ewwww. I don’t like that!” when you know they never really gave it a proper chance. My belief, much like Anthony Bourdain, if it is presnted to you, always try it like a humble guest should.

  5. Pingback: Thanksgiving Sides « Sweet & Saucy

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