February 1, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pecan Topping

roasted butternut squash with kale and pecan topping

I understand it's been a three month hiatus.  It was a very busy holiday season, as I'm sure it was for all of you. Who doesn't feel a little overwhelmed during that time of the year?  But mine was very busy, you see. I started a brand new job the week after Thanksgiving. A great job. The kind I've been looking for, with generous vacation time and health benefits.  Yes sir, I went and got myself a big girl job.

pomegranate seeds and floating pith

On top of adjusting into my new role in marketing and communications, the month of January just completely flew by.  I feel like I spent the last month planning for my upcoming year and regaining a sense of organization.  I had plans day in and day out to sit down for a mere 20 minutes to contribute even the smallest thought to this blog, but each day came and went without much effort.

raw squash

It's scary sometimes.  How fast time can pass us by.  It's something that you're always told when you're younger, that time only ticks faster the older that you get.  But it truly does take age to really be able to appreciate what your folks tried to tell you once upon a time.  However, I'm not going to worry about the passing of time this year, even though it's one of two left in my twenties.  I have an exciting year ahead of me and I can't wait to see what it will bring.

don't forget the chilis and pomegranate seeds

For the time being though, I will try to savor the moment.  Before the winter escapes with its mild and sometimes brisk weather, I'll strive to enjoy the things that will quickly be gone with the arrival of spring.  Take butternut squash for example.  It's vibrant, slightly sweet and just so happens to be chock full of vitamins.  Not to mention, there are about a million ways in which you can prepare it.  Mashed, roasted, puréed for soup and even whipped into a dessert. Why wouldn't I want to take advantage of something so lovely? It may not get the same quality time or attention as my other winter necessities (read: knee high leather boots and giant comfy scarves), but I'll still savor it nonetheless.

a beautiful and filling side dish

And I hope all of you take the time to do so as well.  Be it roasted squash, hot cocoa or chicken 'n dumplings, whatever warms your heart, try to enjoy the bounties of the season and life's little, daily pleasures.  I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a good one for all of us.

roasted squash with kale and pomegranate

Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pecan Topping

A lovely side dish that steps just slightly outside of the box. It’s a tasty, and healthy dish, that conveniently contains loads of vitamins thanks to the introduction of kale, sweet potatoes and pomegranate seeds. These beautiful little jewels not only add a vibrant pop of color to the table, but a delicious and juicy burst of sweetness to every bite as well.


2 hatch chiles
1 poblano pepper
2 – 2 ½ lb butternut squash
1 lb ( or about 2 large) sweet potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1, tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
¾ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup roughly chopped kale (stems removed)
1 pomegranate

Almond Pecan Parmesan Topping:
¼ cup + 1 tbsp sliced almonds
¼ cup + 1 tbsp pecan halves
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4tsp kosher salt
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray a 9x9” baking dish with cooking spray and add the hatch chiles and poblano pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, on the top oven rack, rotating half way through, until the skin is blistered and charred. Remove from oven, place a kitchen towel on top (to trap steam) and set aside.

2. Spray a 9x13” baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Peel the squash, slice off the top and bottom and cut the squash vertically down the middle. Remove the seeds and guts (I used a grapefruit spoon) and discard. Cube each half of the squash into 1” chunks and add to the baking dish.

3. Add the garlic, parsley and ½ tbsp olive oil to the squash, and mix until combined. Cover with aluminum foil and poke several holes in it to release steam. Roast the squash for 20 minutes. Mean while, peel the sweet potatoes and cube into 1” pieces. Remove the squash from the oven and add the sweet potatoes, ancho chile powder, chipotle powder, maple syrup, remaining ½ tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to coat everything evenly. Return to the oven, cover with the foil again and roast for another 20 minutes or until the squash is just about fork tender.

4. Meanwhile, add the almonds, pecans, 2 tbsp of grated Parmesan, salt and olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. You want to make sure to keep some chunky pieces of the nuts. Set this aside and reach for the roasted chile peppers. Peel the blistered skin from the peppers, remove and discard the seeds and coarsely chop.

5. Remove the squash and sweet potatoes from the oven. Stir in the chopped chile peppers and kale. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Add the almond pecan and Parmesan topping and place back in the oven for a final 5-8 minutes, or until the topping is lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, top generously with pomegranate seeds*, serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes about 6-8 side servings

* This is a great trick for removing pomegranate seeds in a much more clean manner. Think- unstained fingers and reduced pink spray on your clothing and counters! Cut the pomegranate in half and place in a bowl of water. Gently begin to pluck out the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, as the white pith and outer layers will float to the top. Strain the pith and water from the bowl. You’ll be left with a beautiful mound of pomegranate seeds ready to eat!

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