Roasted Butternut Squash with Balsamic Drizzle

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This side dish featuring roasted butternut squash and crunchy toasted hazelnuts is simple to make and packed with flavor. It’s a side dish delicious enough to enjoy as a main course.

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Sometimes it’s the little touches that make a simple recipe something special. An extra splash of a special sauce or fresh herbs sprinkled on top doesn’t just add to the presentation, they lend an important pop of flavor. In this case, a last-minute hearty drizzle of Ponti Glaze with balsamic vinegar of Modena elevated a basic roasted butternut squash recipe to a dish worthy of appearing at upcoming holiday feasts.

When it comes to holiday entertaining of any sort I believe in keeping it simple, but that certainly doesn’t mean boring or basic. It’s just that instead of being sequestered in the kitchen slaving away, I actually like to enjoy the party with my guests. Crazy, right?

When it comes to side dishes I think roasted winter squashes like butternut are perfect. Other than some prep time peeling and chopping, the oven really does all the work. In about 20 minutes this one is ready to go. And, while this recipe is meant to be a side dish, you could easily enjoy it on a weekday as the main course for two people with a green salad on the side.

Tips for Peeling Butternut Squash

  1. When selecting butternut squash, I think ones with a longer “neck” are easier to peel.
  2. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut off both the top and bottom of the squash, about 1/4 of an inch from the end (this helps stabilize the squash while you peel and cut).
  3. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin, aka, the outer layer, of the butternut squash. You may notice a thin, lighter layer of flesh immediately underneath the skin that surrounds the darker yellow flesh below. I always leave this lighter portion if it happens to stick. Once the squash is roasted, you can’t taste it.
  4. With your chef’s knife, cut the squash crosswise where the neck of the squash meets the rounder, base end so that you have two pieces, one that’s a cylinder (the neck) and one that’s more of a ball (the base). Stand each of the pieces upright on your cutting board and make a cut down the middle from top to bottom. You’ll now have 4 pieces.
  5. Once cut, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and stringy parts from inside the base end of the squash.
  6. Lay your halves cut side down, and cut each half into 1-inch wide slices. Then, cut your slices crosswise in 1-inch wide cuts. You can adjust the width of the cuts as needed to suit your recipe. Not all the pieces will be a perfect square and that’s totally fine!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Balsamic Drizzle

This side dish featuring roasted butternut squash and crunchy toasted hazelnuts is simple to make and packed with flavor. It's a side dish delicious enough to enjoy as a main course.
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds peeled diced butternut squash
  • 2 cups sliced leeks (white and light green parts only)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced butternut squash, sliced leeks, dried thyme, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Toss to well combine.
  • Spread out butternut squash mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Until squash is fork tender.
  • While squash cooks, toast chopped hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside.
  • Scoop cooked squash mixture onto a large serving platter or bowl. Top with toasted hazelnuts and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top. Serve immediately.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Photos by Renato Ghio

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