Serious Eats: Recipes

Roasted Squash with Rajas, Cumin, and Crema

I love pumpkin and winter squash, but after having it roasted or mashed a few times I start looking for new flavors to branch out. Cumin seeds, both roasted with the squash and tossed in right before serving, bring out its earthy, subtly spicy notes. Strips of roasted poblano chiles (rajas) add caramelized flavors and a bright spiciness to give both depth and contrast. A drizzle of crema cuts some of the heat.

Crema is Mexican cultured cream, typically thinner than American sour cream. You can drizzle it off a spoon and more easily use it to coat other ingredients. Though less sour, it has a buttermilk twang I find addictive. If you can't find any, it's dead simple to make. Carefully heat a cup of cream in a jar (use a water bath or a microwave) till it feels just hot to the touch, then stir in a tablespoon of buttermilk and cover tightly. Let it sit somewhere warm for a day and you've got crema that will keep in the fridge for weeks. Or just use regular sour cream—it'll still be delicious.

This will be gracing my table all through fall and winter, but to me this is perfect Thanksgiving food. It's based on simple ingredients, is best served family style, and the leftovers taste delicious. Yes, it's got some heat, but how much is up to you, and that jolt may be just the thing to wake you up between bites of stuffing.

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