A friend recently asked if I had any special Thanksgiving recipes to share but to be honest, I’ve never had to host the big dinner at my house. Most years my contribution involves appetizers, homemade bread or pies. And then the other day one of my coworkers shared her very popular, very simple annual dish. It involves roasting butternut squash, drizzling it with melted lemon butter and sprinkling it with chopped rosemary and walnuts. I decided, two days before take-off, to give it a go.
There are many possible variations to this recipe. Since we’re in the midst of the holiday season I thought an herbed citrus compound butter would be beautiful. And while walnuts are lovely, why not add a bit of sweetness with rosemary-scented sugared pecans? The results were dazzling.
There’s no need to be intimidated by the term compound butter; it’s just a fancy way of referring to butter that’s been flavored. If you don’t want to bother, simply melt the butter, mix in the zests, rosemary and salt, and drizzle it over the roasted squash. And if you'd rather skip the rosemary sugared pecans, plain roasted pecans chopped with a bit of fresh rosemary will also make a nice topping (you may want to sprinkle a bit of brown sugar over the squash wedges to give them that sweet-savory component).
This Thanksgiving we’re heading to Tristan’s aunt and uncle’s house and I’m responsible for the bread (I’m thinking a wheat-sheaf Pain de Champagne) so stay tuned!
Rosemary Sugared Pecans
1 cup pecans2 tablespoons butter
2 slightly rounded tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Roasted Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash (or squash of choice, delicata is shown here)Olive oil
Rosemary Citrus Compound Butter
Rosemary Citrus Compound Butter
The below amounts make more than you'll need for 1 roasted butternut squash.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
Pinch of salt
For the pecans: preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread pecan halves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until they are golden and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or if you don’t have any parchment, a lightly buttered sheet will do). Set aside.
In a large skillet heat the butter, sugar, cayenne and rosemary over medium-high. Once the butter has melted, add the nuts and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with a good pinch of coarse salt. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
For the squash: preheat oven to 400˚F.
If you’d like to serve the squash skinless, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Carefully cut the squash lengthwise in half; scoop out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Cut each half in half again and rub the cut side of each quarter lightly with olive oil. Place wedges cut side up in a baking dish and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Transfer to the oven and roast until the edges have browned and the flesh is tender, 40-60 minutes.
For the compound butter: mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. The butter can be used immediately or rolled on parchment paper into a log shape, wrapped in plastic and frozen.
To assemble: Place squash wedges on a serving platter lined with rosemary sprigs. Top each with a dollop of compound butter and a sprinkling of crunchy pecans. Garnish with a bit of orange zest, if desired.