~ Simon and Garfunkle's Roasted Butternut Squash ~
"Eat your squash". Three words I never heard as a child. At the tables I sat down at to eat, no one made squash -- not my mother, not my grandmother and no one in their immediate or distant families. Meat, potatoes, gravy, a green or yellow vegetable and "drink your milk". That was that. No squash. I never had to worry about squash. The first time I cooked and ate squash I was twenty. It was butternut squash at the apartment of a co-worker and close friend: Eileen.
Eileen was born and raised in Brooklyn, and, like my husband and I, had moved to Happy Valley because her husband was going to Penn State. She and I were both born-to-be homemakers who loved to cook and found ourselves working at the same bank. We became fast friends -- always sharing and trying "new to us" recipes. One evening we served up two medium-sized butternut squash as a side-dish for the four of us. They were unpeeled, sliced in half, seeded and roasted until tender. Once out of the oven, each portion received two-three pats of butter, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of honey. It was simply amazing.
Enter the butternut squash period of my life, then, fast forward forty-some years. From the moment we owned our own home and planted a backyard garden, butternut squash has been a part of it. The following recipe, which is as simple and straightforward as the original "butter & honey" creation described above, was one I adapted from a method I use for roasting potatoes. Over the years it's become a regular on my traditional Thanksgiving table, placed just to the right of the mashed potatoes and just to the left of the brussels sprouts. "Please pass the squash."
Simon & Garfunkle Squash: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
2 1/2-3 pounds peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into even-sized 1"-1 1/2" cubes* (Note: Butternut squash vary greatly in size, from petite to large. When purchasing them, choose even-sized ones. When picking them in the backyard (like me), use what's there. The number of squash needed to get 2 1/2-3 pounds of peeled, seeded and cubed squash will depend entirely upon their size and weight. I always depend on my kitchen scale for this.)
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: dried parsley flakes, rubbed dalmatian sage, crushed rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, granulated garlic powder and cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
* Note of importance: Squash contains quite a bit more water than similarly roasted potatoes. For that reason, it is going to lose about a third of its volume as it roasts. Be sure to error on the side of larger cubes rather than smaller ones to avoid any squishy little mishaps.
~ Step 1. Using a chef's knife and/or a vegetable peeler (whichever is easiest for you), trim top and bottom ends from the squash, peel it and slice it in half. Using an ordinary tablespoon, scoop the seeds out of the cavities. Chop the squash into 1"-1 1/2" cubes, placing the pieces in a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish as you work. Drizzle the oil over the squash, and, using a large spoon or spatula, toss until the squash is thoroughly but very lightly-coated in oil.
~ Step 2. Sprinkle the dried spices and sea salt evenly over squash. Using the large spoon or spatula, toss again, until all of the spices are evenly incorporated. Note: This can be done up to an hour prior to roasting.
Roast in a 375° oven 1 hour-to-1 hour, 15 minutes:
~ Step 3. Roast on center rack of preheated 375° oven for 60-75 minutes. After 30 minutes of roasting, give them a stir. After 45 minutes of roasting, stop to toss them around with the large spoon or spatula every 15 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Crispy & nicely-spiced outside, tender & sweet inside:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler (optional); tablespoon, 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish; large spoon or spatula
Cook's Note: I won't lie, the inspiration for "Simon & Garfunkle" spiced anything was not mine. It was my girlfriend Carol's and it is brilliant. To get the recipe for ~ Carol's Herbaceous Simon & Garfunkle Potatoes ~, just click into Categories 4, 19 or 20.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)