Confession: I’ve never really liked butternut squash. The texture and the flavor confused me – is it supposed to be sweet? Savory? It tastes like a sweet potato but it’s mushy like a squash! So confusing! And then I had a mind blowing butternut squash side that I randomly picked up at the grocery store. I literally could NOT stop eating it, and was determined to make my own.
I took my inspiration from Ina Garten – she has a butternut squash salad recipe that looked super close to what I had eaten, so I took her recipe and tweaked it to my taste. PS – how amazing is Ina?? I want to be best friends with her and hang out with her ALL THE TIME.
1.5 lbs of butternut squash
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp dried cherries
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp minced shallots
2 tsp Dijon mustard
I had worked with butternut squash in culinary class, so I knew how to peel and prep it. I can’t imagine trying to tackle this monstrosity without having done it before. But never fear, I’m here to guide you through the process! Yay!
It looks a lot harder than it looks to peel and prep. I cut the bottom of the squash so that I had a flat surface for it to hang out on, then I peeled the sucker using my trusty Kuhn peeler I had mentioned before – seriously, the best peeler on the market!
Super easy peasy, don’t forget that plastic “waste” bag on the side to make cleanup easy! Then we cut in half and scoop out the insides. Notice how unevenly halved my butternut squash is? I forgot how dense the squash is – a super sharp knife is very important.
Side note: you can roast the seeds to make a tasty snack here as well. I was too lazy and ended up just trashing the insides. Bad Joanna.
I then tossed these puppies into a large mixing bowl, along with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 Tbsp of pure maple syrup, with several pinches (probably a teaspoon’s worth!) of Kosher salt, and a liberal grinding of pepper. Then they were put on a single layer on baking sheets to roast in the preheated oven.
While my butternut squash was roasting, I put together the dressing – whisking together the rest of the olive oil (3 Tbsp), 3 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 Tbsp of honey, 2 Tbsp of minced shallots, and 2 tsp of dijon mustard.
Then these babies were put into a big bowl, cherries and the dressing were added (along with a pinch of salt once I tasted the end product). You can totally sub cranberries in here instead of dried cherries – I just had a bag of cherries hanging out in the pantry that I decided to use.
They were SO GOOD! They’re delicious hot or cold, which is fantastic to bring to potlucks or to keep for company. My husband kept sneaking bites from the big bowl as I put together the rest of our dinner.
Do you have an ingredient that you were initially suspicious about that you now love?