last minute side dish

A last minute idea for your Thanksgiving table: roasted acorn squash.  It is so simple to make and it’s delicious.  The hardest part is cracking open the squash but I have found that a sharp knife does the trick– just be sure to keep your fingers out of the way of the blade!  You don’t want to spend Thanksgiving in the emergency room…

After the squash is cut in two (cut into fourths if the squash is particularly large) and has been seeded, fill it with a combination of butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and fresh sage leaves.  In the past I have also used a similar Tyler Florence recipe that also includes Amaretto and crushed up vanilla wafers that is also quite good.  Take your pick.

Roast in the oven until tender and enjoy.

Roasted Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squash
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fresh sage leaves (about 8)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split squash in half through the equator and scrape out seeds with a spoon.  Set the squash halves (cut sides up) on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Stir melted butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Brush mixture onto cut squash halves.  Sprinkle coated squash halves with sage leaves.

Bake for about an hour or until squash halves are tender.

soup season

Fall is my favorite time of year for a variety of reasons– the brilliant colors of the changing leaves, the cooler temperatures, and of course for the abundance of foods that are prevalent this time of year: squash, pumpkins, apples, parsnips, Brussels sprouts– love them all.  I also love nothing more on a cool fall day than a nice hot bowl of soup.

When I went apple picking two weekends ago I also picked up a beautiful butternut squash at the same farm and this inspired me to whip up my first soup (chili doesn’t count!) of the season.  This recipe starts with roasting cubed squash for a nice caramelized flavor.

Then you chop up some onions, celery and fresh sage.  Sage is a wonderful herb that does a lot of work this time of year as it pairs very nicely with squash and pumpkin as well as poultry.  Bonus: it makes your house smell wonderful!

After these ingredients (along with some vegetable or chicken broth) had simmered for a solid half hour I busted out my immersion blender and made a beautiful smooth soup.

What goes well with soup?  Bread.  What’s one step better than bread?  Homemade croutons.  I chunked up a few slices of sourdough bread and tossed them with olive oil, more chopped fresh sage, minced garlic, finely shredded Parmesan and a little salt and toasted them in the oven until they were nice and crisp.

Nothing says “fall is here” quite like a hot bowl of butternut squash soup with homemade croutons…

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Parmesan Croutons (from recipe from Real Simple magazine)

  • 1 3-pound butternut squash—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (5 to 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Turn the cubes over and continue roasting for 15 minutes or until they are caramelized; set aside.

In a Dutch oven or a large stockpot, heat the butter and the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and sage and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent and tender, 10 minutes. Add the squash, broth, and the remaining
salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid is flavorful. Remove from heat.

Using a blender or a food processor, blend the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pot and keep warm. Top with Sage and Parmesan Croutons and the grated Parmesan.

Sage and Parmesan Croutons (also from Real Simple magazine)

  • 3 ounces rustic white bread (about 3 thick slices), torn into 24 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (about 6 large leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl to coat.  Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.