Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Roasted Butternut Squash with Pears and Blue Cheese

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Most of the time I'm trying out new recipes, but there are some dishes I go back to again and again.  This warming side captures the colors, textures and flavors of the harvest, making it perfect for those chilly autumn days.  After a trip to the orchard for squash and apples, this was the first thing in my oven (followed immediately by apple crisp, of course).

Before tasting this dish my mom wouldn't get near blue cheese, even sharp cheddar was too strong on her radar.  It only took a few bites to convince her that blue cheese compliments this dish far beyond imagination.  Unfortunately for me, that means I actually have to share this.  But, on the plus side, she is much more willing to try 'new' ingredients or unique combinations. 

Sweet butternut squash is roasted with pears, mushrooms and onions until tender and caramelized.  An array of textures provides contrast in each bite.  Soft squash and tender onions mingle with juicy mushrooms and delicate pears.  Dried cranberries add a hint of chewiness while whole mustard seeds add a little crunch.

Pears and cranberries lend just the right touch of sweet to this savory fall favorite.  Sage, thyme and mustard seeds enhance the savory aspects of the squash, onion and mushrooms.  The salty, earthy tang of creamy, melted blue cheese brings an explosion of flavor to convert skeptics of all sorts.  

I don't usually measure when I make this, meaning it comes out a little differently each time.  I've thrown in an apple and used fresh cranberries. Sometimes I use olive oil, other times a little butter goes in too.  Below are the measurements I used this time.  I think I typically use more sage and thyme, so try 1-1/2 to 2 tsp of each.   

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pears and Blue Cheese
adapted from The Noshery

1 lb. peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 large under-ripe pear, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
4 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1-1/2 Tbsp whole mustard seed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rubbed sage
1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
* In a large bowl combine squash, pear, onion, mushrooms and cranberries; set aside.
* In a small bowl combine mustard seed, thyme, sage and olive oil.  Pour over squash mixture and toss to coat.
* Spread onto prepared baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast 40 minutes, stirring once half way through, or until squash and onions are tender and caramelized. Sprinkle with blue cheese and bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.  Serve warm or room temperature (also great cold the next day).

Food for Thought: "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." -Eleanor Roosevelt 

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