22 March 2013

Roast Acorn Squash with Lime

Just as a whiff of springtime weather had me salivating for rhubarb and asparagus, a (final???) northwest snow storm blew in this week to disrupt my visions of flip flops and pedicures that don't require Saran-wrapping my toes in order to get home smudge free under socks and boots. In the meantime, my new winter boots, which I anticipated would last me through the season, if not ten seasons to come, have sprouted a hole in their sole; my trusty down coat hasn't been to the dry cleaner since the end of last winter; and I've lost not one but two woolly hats to the hat gremlins. Forget Groundhog Day, I've developed a belief that when winter-wear begins to fail you, it is time for the season to end.

I know. Complaining about wet and wintery weather is a big ole cliche, not to mention it probably sounds whiny to my friends and neighbors in the North. So thank goodness for a prolonged season of winter-weather cooking, including this bright rendition of squash. 

Winter squash often feels heavy and/or mealy to me without the addition of some sort of acid and/or cheese. Since I'm endeavoring to not add cheese to absolutely everything I eat, this recipe called to me. It dresses the roast squash in a vinaigrette in the same way you would dress a salad. With my own addition of nuts to combat the mushy, eating baby-food feeling that squash can have, and greens to make it feel health-ful -- wa-la! A winter-spring transition dinner!

Roast Acorn Squash with Lime 
Serves 4 as side dish, or two as a main course
Adapted slightly from Epicurious


1 (1 1/2 - to 1 3/4-lb) acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
A large handful of baby arugula, spinach, or greens or your choice
1/4 cup roughly chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 450F. Halve squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scoop out seeds and cut squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Toss squash with black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, in a large shallow baking pan. Roast squash, turning position of pan halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are soft, 25 to 35 minutes.

While squash is roasting, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile, cilantro, and remaining oil until combined. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a large bowl and toss with dressing. Add in walnuts and arugula and serve warm. 

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