One night last weekend in our rented historic Virginian home, Ben’s family and I treated ourselves to a 7lb local Virginia ham for dinner that we enjoyed in the 250 year old dining room next to a blazing fire with mulled wine, green beans, and roasted butternut squash as an early Thanksgiving celebration since we won’t be together for the holiday this year.
Nevermind the fact that the ham was overly salted, I couldn’t drink the wine because I’m apparently allergic to reds now (RIP cabernet,) and the squash was roasted on a pizza pan – it was perfection. Tucked inside our 1760s plantation-style home in the middle of the woods, I was having an honest to goodness pinch me moment. Some family likely similar to ours was eating the same foods, watching the same fire, sitting in the same room 250 years prior.
Their toddlers probably didn’t have a death grip on their iPhones watching Curious George’s Halloween special before dessert, but the other stuff? Unbelievable!
Although the ham was kind of a bust, the pizza pan-roasted butternut squash, which Ben’s brother and brother’s girlfriend made, more than made up for it. I’m not sure who ate more – Lincoln, or the rest of the family combined! Simple, easy, and naturally sweet, yet balanced with savory seasonings and a splash of balsamic vinegar, Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash is a side dish that’s got to make it to your Thanksgiving table this year.
The rest of the month I’ll be sharing several tasty, Thanksgiving-ready recipes that will make an impact at your holiday table. We’re talking simple yet scrumptious, easy, make ahead, beautiful dishes that won’t stress you out on the big day. Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash is easy to prep ahead of time then roast while the turkey is resting and being carved. I’m showing you my foolproof way to peel and chop a whole butternut squash in the directions below, but you could make this dish even easier by buying the pre-cut squash most grocery stores are selling these days.
Whichever way you go, you and your family will love this fresh, vibrant, and healthy side dish!
Start by picking a 3lb butternut squash. Look for butternut squash that are firm with smooth skin, though a few scrapes are just fine (wow, am I describing the perfect butternut squash, or man?!)
Pierce the bulb end of the squash five or six times across the center then microwave the whole thing for 1-1/2 minutes. Just toss it in there – no plate required. Butternut squash are super hard, so the nuking time will help soften it up a touch. Afterwards, slice the squash in half separating the bulb end from the straight end.
Slice the bottom and top off then use a vegetable peeler to peel the straight end, and then cut into three or four planks about 1-1/2″ wide.
Cut each plank into cubes then add them to a big bowl.
Peel the bulb end by holding it against a cutting board then running your peeler down the side.
Slice it in half then remove the seeds with a spoon, and then cut into wedges and chop.
Is there a more beautiful sight?! NOW, you could go the whole peel/chop your own 3lb butternut squash route, or buy 2-1/4 – 2-1/2lbs pre-cut butternut squash to make this dish come together even faster. Totally your call!
Either way you go, add 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to the bowl then toss to coat and arrange on a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (depending on how large the squash cubes are,) or until the squash is crisp tender. You don’t want the squash to be crunchy, but you also don’t want it to resemble mush!
While the squash is still piping hot, drizzle 1 – 2 Tablespoons good balsamic vinegar on top. Aged balsamic vinegar is especially delicious, and make sure you’re using a brand free from caramel coloring. The balsamic vinegar’s tanginess cuts the sweetness of the butternut squash, and makes the flavor pop. So yummy and unexpected!
Transfer the butternut squash to a platter then sprinkle with chopped walnuts and fresh sage leaves for a pretty presentation, and then serve!
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Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash
Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash is easy and delicious. Serve as a fresh and seasonal gluten-free side with any weeknight or holiday meal!
- 1, 3lb butternut squash (or 2-1/4 - 2-1/2lbs pre-cut butternut squash)
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1-2 Tablespoons high quality balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Pierce the bulb end of the butternut squash four or five times all the way around with a very sharp knife then microwave for 1-1/2 minutes to help soften the squash. Slice the top and bottom off then cut the squash in half to separate the bulb end from the straight end. Peel the straight end, slice into four planks, then chop each plank into a large cube and add to a large bowl. Peel bulb end then slice in half and remove seeds. Slice into wedges then chop.
- Toss butternut squash cubes with extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper then arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on how large you cut your cubes,) then drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste while still hot, and then serve.
- Garnish with chopped walnuts and/or fresh sage leaves for a festive presentation for the holidays!
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Roasted Balsamic Butternut Squash is perfect for Thanksgiving because it’s so easy to prep ahead of time. Peel then chop the squash several days in advance, add to a large Ziplock bag or two with the oil and seasonings the morning of, then roast right before dinner while you’re carving the turkey. Easy and unbelievably tasty – hope you’ll give it a try!