By Dr. Rob Tremblay
Farmers Forum columnist
As traditions go, this recipe is relatively recent, only about 25 years old. My wife, Ginger, started preparing this dish about the same time as we fell under the spell of fresh, rather than frozen, turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Now our extended family always checks to see if this squash dish is on the table before we all dig in.
It is the little details that make this dish so special. Roasting deepens the flavour of the squash while the maple syrup glaze makes this dish a hit even with children who wouldn’t normally rush to load their plates with something like squash. Toasted pecans add a little different flavour and a bit of crunch. The butter in the glaze just adds to the complexity of the flavour; there’s no substitute for real butter.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup of maple syrup
¼ cup butter
¾ cup raw pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel and cube squash. Place the squash cubes in a dish and add the olive oil. Toss to make sure the cubes are evenly coated with oil. Spread the squash over a roasting/cookie sheet (parchment paper helps prevent sticking) and roast until done (about 35 to 40 minutes).
Prepare the glaze by placing the maple syrup and butter in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Stir it for 5 to 7 minutes after it reaches a boil, then remove it from the heat and let it rest.
Place the pecan halves in a non-stick skillet and toast until they are fragrant. Be sure to shake the pan often because the pecans can easily burn. This also takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
To assemble the dish: Place the cooked squash in a bowl and pour the maple-butter glaze over it. Add the toasted pecans and gently toss to make sure everything is covered by the glaze. You can serve it as is or transfer the final assembled dish to a serving bowl or platter. Serves 4 to 6 people.
Dr. Robert Tremblay is a veterinarian for Boehringer-Ingelheim and lives near Guelph.