Here's a funny thing. Growing up in Romania, I never ate butternut squash! Yes, I know it sounds odd but there are actually lots of foods I'd never been exposed to before moving here. I don't even think I tried it for years after starting to eat "American Food". That's probably because I was busy gorging on Lucky Charms. Oh the horror (but you know you did too).
I saw the funny looking vegetable in passing but never knew what it was about. I'm fairly certain my mom was in the same boat as it didn't enter the house. At least not for a long while after establishing roots.
I still remember the first time I tried it. It reminded me much of a pastry my grandmother used to make with pumpkin. As a little girl, she used to let me get my hands dirty and help with cleaning out the slimy pumpkin.
Apartments in Bucharest were small and kitchens even smaller. Navigating around in such a tiny space was rather challenging, but I didn't know it at the time. Perched on a chair, arms deep in pumpkin goo and seeds was pure happiness. Being able to help in the kitchen in any capacity was the highlight of my day.
I'm hazy on the details of trying butternut squash for the first time but what I distinctly remember is being transported back to the little kitchen, eating pumpkin pastry. The taste was remarkably similar.
So over the years of eating squash I've toyed around with various recipes and used it in many different dishes. But one of my favorites is a rather indulgent side, which tastes very similar to a dessert. It's absurdly easy to make and all you need is a butternut squash, dried cranberries, toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds. So let’s get to making it!
roasted cinnamon butternut squash
Prep time: 5 minutes
Roasting time: 30-35 minutes
1 medium butternut squash
1 tbsp maple syrup
1-2 tbsp avocado oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp re-hydrated cranberries
2 tbsp pecans
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 roasting sheets
2 small mixing bowls
Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, combine avocado oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Place butternut squash on parchment lined sheet and drizzle with oil mixture. Mix thoroughly. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until fork tender, tossing once half way through.
Meanwhile, line your other sheet with paper and toast pumpkin seeds and pecans for about 5 minutes until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a small mixing bowl, cover cranberries with enough hot water to submerge. Hydrate cranberries for 15 minutes and drain.
Once squash is cooked, remove from pan, add to serving dish and sprinkle with nuts, seeds and cranberries.
* Squash takes a little longer to roast so feel free to roast longer if not completely soft.