I have a love/hate relationship with butternut squash. I love it roasted with a little bit of salt, pepper, and maple syrup, or stuffed with walnuts, cranberries and grains, or blended into a velvety soup. But the thought of peeling and chopping a butternut squash makes me just want to cry.
Every year for thanksgiving my dad and I make a roasted vegetable platter brimming with beautiful, jewel-tone produce. It is the prettiest side dish full of sage brussels sprouts, ivory rutabaga, violet beets, and amber butternut squash. I can handle peeling and cutting just about anything from small beets with uneven surfaces to large rutabagas with waxy skins but when it comes to the butternut squash, I just need to leave the kitchen and hope and pray when I come back my dad has magically taken care of it.
Sure, the store can do it. But I cannot justify paying the price of a pre-cut squash when they’re so cheap as is.
I think the peeling is the worst part. For the last couple years whenever I wanted butternut squash I could get away with cutting the squash in half lengthwise, spooning out the seeds, and roasting it with the skin on until tender. I would scoop out the flesh and use it for whatever I needed, which usually meant blending it into a soup since it’s pretty much mush after removing everything from the skin.
I had already made several batches of butternut squash soup this fall. I needed to do something different to satiate my squash craving which meant it was time to woman up and master the proper technique for breaking down a butternut squash.
I found this video from Hatchery to be a super helpful demonstration. The idea is to use a peeler to remove the skin and cut the squash in half. From there, you can cut the squash into planks and slice into cubes.
Also, solid equipment is key. Make sure you’re using a good peeler and a sharp knife. Knives, especially, are a good investment choice if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Part of the reason I harbored such a hatred for cutting butternut squash was due to poor tools that made it near impossible to cut anything without excessive strength.
Now that I have the tools and technique for breaking down a squash, I thought I’d try roasting it with some brussels sprouts and mixing it with lentils, raisins, and cranberries. I saved the seeds from the squash and seasoned them with turmeric, coriander, cloves, salt, and pepper. A quick toss in the oven for 10 minutes while the squash and brussels sprouts finished roasting and I had a crispy, spicy topping for my dish.
Warm cloves, sweet raisins and cranberries, and a hint of sage in the roasted veggies are the small details that pull this dish together and make it a perfect fall side dish.
Lentils with Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts
- 1 Butternut Squash (Reserve the seeds)
- 1 Lb Brussels Sprouts
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil plus 1 Tsp for the seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 1 Tsp Cloves
- 1 Tsp Nutmeg
- 6-8 Sage Leaves
- 1 Cup Lentils
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Tsp Turmeric
- 1 Tsp Coriander
- 1/4 Cup Raisins
- 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
- Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)
Heat the oven to 425. Remove the skin from the butternut squash and cut into 1 inch pieces, saving the seeds in a separate bowl. Slice the very ends of the brussels sprout stems and cut the sprouts in half lengthwise. Place the squash and sprouts in a roasting pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and add salt, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Toss to combine. Put sage leaves on top. Place in the oven for 45-55 minutes, mixing everything after half an hour.
Rinse the seeds and lay out on a paper towel. Pat dry and place in a pan and drizzle with remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, and cloves. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
In a pot, add the lentils, chicken stock, water, turmeric and coriander. Bring to a boil on high then turn down to medium and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Drain the lentils. Place back on heat and add the raisins and cranberries. Gently stir in the butternut squash and brussels sprouts. Top with the butternut squash seeds. Serve with a dollop of plain greek yogurt (optional).