Winter squash have thick, tough shells that protect the sweet, rich flesh inside which makes them excellent storage vegetables. With rambling rows of winter squash stored for winter, I am challenged and eager to discover new ways to prepare them. Sprawling Kabocha, Buttercup and Butternut vines gradually took over 1/3 of our garden space this summer. When fall frosts came and curled their leaves shut, we found a total of 50 winter squash waiting to be brought in from the cold. What a treat!
I prepared the following recipe with Kabocha but any of the other sweet meat squashes would work well too. If you can find the courage to venture away from the classic baked winter squash with butter and brown sugar, you may discover a new favorite. It’s vibrant colors make it a great addition to a festive meal.
4 – 5 cups of cubed sweet winter squash, peeled (1 – 2 inch pieces)
2 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped into 1 – 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl toss the squash, apple and cranberries.
Whisk together in a small bowl the oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, orange peel and sea salt. Add the maple syrup mixture to the veggies and fruit and toss together to coat evenly. Place in a 13 x 9 inch pan and bake covered for 35 -45 minutes. You may want to stir this once while baking, but take care not to over mix.
While the squash dish is baking, roast the walnuts. Preheat a small skillet on low. Add the coarsely chopped walnuts and stir on and off for 10 – 15 minutes until nuts smell fragrant and taste sweet.
When the squash is done, you will notice the juices have gathered on the bottom. To serve, invert pan in a serving bowl and sprinkle walnuts on top. All of the juices will ooze over the colorful ensemble making it a feast for the eyes and very tasty too! Enjoy!