In this recipe, we are using Butternut squash, a large, cylindrical squash that looks rather like a pear-shaped bat. Like other winter squashes, it is a good source of iron, riboflavin and antioxidant Vitamins A and C. It also contains lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant believed to be important for eye health, providing possible protection against cataracts and macular degeneration. When shopping, choose one that is heavy for its size and has a hard, deep-colored rind free of blemishes or moldy spots. This side dish would make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving dinner.

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Course Salad
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 3 lb butternut squash
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

For Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in the middle. To help with clean up, line a 17-by 12- by 1-inch baking sheet with foil. Gently spray with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. Peel the squash and cut off the ends. Cut in half and remove the seeds.

  3. Cube the squash into ½-inch cubes – about 6 cups. In a large bowl toss the squash with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and cumin to taste. Arrange in single layer on prepared baking sheet.

  4. Roast the squash, turning occasionally, until golden brown on edges, about 30-35 minutes. 

Pesto:

  1. Toast the pepitas in 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until seeds are puffed and beginning to brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate to cool.

  2. Using a food processor, pulse the cooled pepitas with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice and salt and pepper to form a coarse paste.

  3. Toss the squash with the pesto. Taste, adding additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

You could serve the squash without the pesto and make a squash salad by mixing the squash with some toasted slivered almonds, crumbled goat cheese or ricotta salata, and tossing with a bit of olive oil and good balsamic vinegar. 

You could also make an entrée by mixing the pesto with some pasta and some pasta water (to thin out a bit) and top with the squash, crumbled goat cheese or ricotta salata, and perhaps some toasted pine nuts.