It's official: we are deep in the throes of winter squash season. When you think about it, winter squash are the pretty much the quintessential fall produce, since you need to turn on your stove or oven to deal with their hardened flesh—a welcome excuse to heat up the kitchen as the temperature dips below freezing. Winter squash are also one of the few locally grown produce items I can source this time of year, thanks to the fact that they ripen late in the season and store excellently.
Over the years I've accumulated a wealth of winter squash recipes: a Thai-inspired butternut squash soup made in the slow cooker; a salad topped with roasted butternut squash and a spicy lime dressing; and several variations on stuffed acorn squash, my favorite featuring farro, mushrooms, and sage. But one recipe that was missing from my arsenal was a preparation for buttercup squash. Buttercup squash are squat and green-skinned, with a bright orange flesh that tastes a bit earthier than butternut. Usually I just halve buttercup squash and bake with a bit of salt and pepper. This was perfectly serviceable, but not terribly exciting, and my baked buttercup squash often had an unpleasant soggy texture.
So I decided to experiment. Instead of roasting the squash in halves, I cut it into slices and roasted them in a single layer on foil-lined baking sheets. The texture came out much better, with a flaky tenderness similar to a baked potato. As far as seasoning, I opted for an Indian-inspired flavor profile with coconut oil, garam masala, and unsweetened shredded coconut. Garam masala is a blend of warming spices commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, and other South Asian cuisines. The exact spices vary regionally; the pre-prepared version I use includes cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander. If you can't track down garam masala, you can easily mix it yourself.
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 medium buttercup squash (about 2 pounds), halved, seeded, and cut into 1 inch slices
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
- salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.
Arrange squash slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Brush with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with garam masala.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Sprinkle with coconut and season with salt to taste.
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