by Cat, Nov 2013 (photo, right from American Farmland Trust)
While the weather here in the Flathead is sliding into winter, with nighttime temps below freezing, my rosemary is still fresh and green – but won’t be much longer. Now is the time to make this dish (and also to preserve fresh rosemary leaves in salt for use through the winter (see my article on The EssentiaList: Preserving Herbs with Salt or Sugar (2).
Thanksgiving is a great time to introduce your family to a familiar holiday side dish (squash) prepared in a new way. However, it is important to use a squash that is ripe, as one that is not yet ripe will not caramelize well and will be inferior in flavor. See Winter Squash (About) for how to recognize a ripe squash.
Caramelized Winter Squash with Rosemary
This recipe is adapted from one by Chef Mike Isabella, and available on The American Farmland Trust website (1), and is a great example of using fresh foods you can grow in your own garden or purchase at a Farmers Market or from a local farm. While the recipe is written for butternut squash, any sweet winter squash can be used – my fav is buttercup.
The original recipe uses regular butter both for the roasting of the squash and for caramelizing it just before serving. While this is OK for the roasting in the presence of moisture that accumulates under the foil cover, heating butter enough to caramelize the squash is not recommended, as the proteins in butter are fragile to direct heat. Instead, use Ghee (Clarified butter), which you can find in jars at specialty stores and some Organic grocers. Or you can clarify it yourself (see Ghee for instructions).
This is far more healthful for the family Thanksgiving table than the more familiar mashed squash with marshmallows. Why not give it a try this year?
This recipe can be easily increased to prepare more than 1 squash.
- 1 butternut squash (or other winter squash)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse-grind Unrefined sea salt
- 2 tablespoons real unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp Ghee (Clarified butter) (for roasting)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (for caramelizing)
- baking sheet or Pyrex baking pan
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds. If squash is large in diameter, cut each half in half again. Place flesh side up on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt. In the hollow where you removed the seeds, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 rosemary sprig to each half.
- Cover the butternut squash tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until tender.
- Remove from the oven and uncover. Let squash cool until you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh from the squash.
- Heat 1 Tbsp ghee in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Once melted and bubbling, add the cooked butternut squash. Gently tossing around until a golden brown texture begins to form.
- Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle the cooked rosemary leaves over all. This side dish is ready to serve family style.
- American Farmland Trust recipe: action.farmland.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Squash_Recipe
- The EssentiaList: Preserving Herbs with Salt or Sugar: essentialstuff.org/index.php/2011/09/17/Cat/preserving-herbs-with-salt-or-sugar
- The Examiner’s Gardening 101: examiner.com/article/gardening-101-how-to-tell-when-squash-is-ripe-ready-to-harvestshell is pressed. This article has been summarized on The EssentiaList: essentialstuff.org/index.php/2010/09/29/Cat/harvesting-storing-winter-squash