Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Pepper & Rosemary

I’ve been making this dish for about a million years. Maybe a million and one. Even in the days when I didn’t really cook, living in Manhattan or in my teeny-tiny, 350-square-foot apartment in Boston’s North End, I would whip this up when Fall arrived, as a potluck dinner contribution or for a family Thanksgiving. I’m not quite sure why it’s never made it to these (hallowed) pages: maybe because I’ve been making it so long, it has ceased to feel like a “recipe.” But, it surely is a recipe, and a brilliant one at that (originally from Gourmet, natch.)

Over the course of the last million-and-one years, I’ve tried this every which way but loose: more or less squash, more or less bell pepper, with green, orange, or yellow peppers, with chiles, dried or fresh, with different herbs, with dried herbs, with butter or bacon grease, with meltier cheeses, without cheese, with a long, slow roast, with a high-heat short roast, with a broiler finish. The recipe below represents the pinnacle of roasted winter squash & bell pepper love: a dish that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Some winter squash, bell pepper; a little garlic, a few herbs. Bind it all together with some olive oil & cheese and let the oven do its magic. And it is that simple: peeling the squash is the most difficult thing in this very straight-forward recipe. Well, that and waiting the hour or so for it to be done. But this is one of those deceptively simple recipes that rises above the ordinary to the extraordinary and I’m still not sure how or why. Any of the modifications that I’ve made in the past make the recipe distinctly less than wonderful. And while I’ve made some modifications to the relative proportions in the original recipe, all of the ingredients remain, and indeed, seem imperative to produce the magic elixir that is “our roasted butternut squash.”

This one is worth trying. If a million (+1!) years of practise won’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Adapted from Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Casserole, Gourmet, September 1995 (via Epicurious)

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Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Pepper & Rosemary

INGREDIENTS

  • one 2 and 1/2 to 3-lb butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled, seeded and diced to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large red bell peppers (about 1 lb), stemmed, seeded, and diced to 1/2-inch
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 4 – 5 stalks rosemary leaves, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp each)
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) freshly grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or Sprout Creek Ouray

METHODS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 degrees F convection).
  2. In a large bowl, combine squash, bell pepper, garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt & pepper. Toss to mix. Drizzle in olive oil, tossing as you go, until vegetables are all lightly coated. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or large casserole dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the top of the vegetables.
  3. Roast in the preheated oven, stirring 2 or 3 times, until squash is tender and beginning to brown at the edges, about 60 – 75 minutes (45 – 60 minutes, convection). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begun to brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 8 – 10 as a side.

OPTIONS

  1. I like this dish crispy on the edges: some would say burnt. I think it is best this way: slightly crispy on the outside, soft & tender on the inside, a nice dose of caramelized flavor. But the original recipe did not specify any browing, like most roasted winter squash. Feel free to stop cooking when it looks/tastes good to you.
  2. In winter, I make this with chopped, frozen red bell peppers (about 2 cups). Rinse and let thaw before cooking. I’ve tried this with green bell peppers, but it’s just not as good. The more astringent flavor of the green bells doesn’t blend well with the squash & cheese.
  3. I’m rarely a fan of dried rosemary, but I do use it sometimes in spice rubs; however, I feel that fresh rosemary is critical here. The rosemary flavor is key in tying this dish together; if you simply can’t source fresh rosemary, try another pungent fresh herb like oregano, thyme or marjoram.
  4. This makes a great, slightly different, Thanksgiving or Christmas dish. Easy to prepare in advance and pop in the oven when you need it, reheats well, and is not as heavy as a lot of traditional winter sides.
  5. This dish can be 100% local by replacing olive oil with bacon grease or clarified butter (but, I’ll admit, I like it best with olive oil).

STORE

Refirgerated for up to 1 week.

SEASON

Fall through winter.

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34 comments

  1. I love this recipe. It is very simple. It uses fresh ingredients and it looks really tasty. I can smell the rosemary now. I think I will try it this Sunday with a simple roasted chicken.

  2. where has this been all my life? and yes, why were you holding out on us (me!). yet again i’m reminded that we must have long-lost twin taste buds (aside from the picklz of course).

    i am such a squash nut – and i’m all for a simple dish i can make my own and whip up any time. love.

  3. Eve

    Love the recipe and am looking forward to trying it. But I think you forgot to add the garlic in your directions – I see it in the ingredients list but not in the step by step instructions. Thanks for sharing all these great ideas, Kaela!

  4. Rose C.

    Have you ever tossed it with couscous? or orzo? I think that might round it out for a lunch or dinner. I’m making this tonight!

    • I haven’t, but I think you’ll find that it is quite filling on its own. Even thought it’s considered a side dish, we often have a bowl of this as stand-alone dinner: not exactly heavy on the protein, but plenty of fiber, vitamins & minerals.

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  6. Sounds so delicious! I made a roasted butternut squash mushroom white sauce lasagna last night and have some leftover butternut squash. I’ll definitely be making this tonight!

  7. Maria

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I added a little brown sugar to really make it carmelize and it was amazing! Thank you for a wonderful fall meal!

  8. I made this last night. 3 pounds of squash made three servings (because we couldn’t stop eating it). It’s all gone and I can’t stop thinking about it!! Thank you!

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  10. Dee G

    Just made this for the Thanksgiving feast. Good thing I am storing finished dishes in a neighbor’s fridge…this smelled and tasted divine! It wouldn’t last the night if it were handy… Thanks for a great idea. Note – I found it quite wet and ended up cooking it for about an hour and 15 minutes. (Peppers were perhaps very juicy.) I also like it crispier. Looks gorgeous.

  11. Hi Dee,

    Good point: I usually do cook mine on the convection setting, which speeds things up a bit. In normal roasting, it can easily take up to 1 and 1/4 hours to get nicely crispy. I’ll update the timing in the recipe.

    Thanks,
    Kaela

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  13. PF

    I’ve make something like this as well– often with chopped onions. Leftovers make a good pasta sauce on something like rotini. Add a little pasta water and more olive oil to loosen things up. I suppose you could take it one stops further and add some dairy and cheese and make it a baked pasta.

  14. Wendy Haviv

    This recipe has been a staple on our Thanksgiving table for several years – ever since I discovered it. I admit, however, I never put the cheese on it. It’s good without it!

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  17. Janine

    Made this for tea tonight, I replaced the Parmesan with mature cheddar’ ( not a Parmesan fan) and served it with basmati rice for me and my husband. It was delicious both of us had clear plates and full bellies. Thanks for sharing.

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