[Photograph: Caroline Russock]
This Thanksgiving I wanted a squash recipe that was completely new, different, and exciting. In past years I've pureed butternuts for soup, roasted all manners of acorns and kabochas, and meticulously filled squash ravioli. And while all of these dishes were good and sometimes even great, I can't help but think they are, well, kind of dull. There just had to be something else out there.
Matt and Ted Lee have a way with vegetables, a knack for combining ordinary flavors in simple ways that work in extraordinary ways. Take this recipe for Squash Half-Moons with Butter, Sesame, and Salt from Simple Fresh Southern for example—sweet kabocha squash basted with butter that's been spiced with garam masala, all finished with toasted sesame seeds.
The recipe is so basic: only five ingredients (and two of them are butter and salt), but the half-moons of squash that come out of the oven are as beautiful as the flavors are complex. The garam masala butter caramelizes the squash slices, giving them a slightly chewy skin and a creamy interior. The sesame seeds add a crunch and burst of their own toasty flavor. This dish is pretty much the polar opposite of all sleepy, safe, and boring squash dishes out there.
Win Simple Fresh Southern
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Simple Fresh Southern to give away this week.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, garam masla, curry powder, or your own blend of wintry spices
- Two 1 1/2 pound acorn or kabocha squash
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 425°F, with a rack positioned in the center of the oven.
Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the froth on the butter begins to subside, thoroughly whisk in the cinnamon or other spices. Remove from the heat.
Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then slice each half lengthwise into 3 half-moon-shaped slices of roughly equal size. You should have 12 wedges total.
Place the squash half-moons, flesh side up, on a roasting pan or baking sheet, baste them with the spiced butter and season them with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the squash begins to brown at the upper corners and yields easily to a knife.
While the squash bakes, heat a dry skillet over high heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast them, stirring them occasionally, until you just notice their color beginning to darken, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the sesame seeds to a small bowl and set aside.