This dish is inspired by a classic spiced Indian winter squash sauté that's sweetened with a bit of unrefined sugar. In this version I roast the vegetable chunks and toss them with maple syrup for extra flavor. If you have the chance, head to an Indian grocery store for the garam masala. You'll find the whole spices packaged together. Grind them in a spice grinder, and you'll be treated to a cloud of potent fragrance—cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom and more—that will transport your kitchen to another continent. —Ann S
Medium butternut squash (yielding about 5 cups of cubed squash)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully slice the top and bottom off the squash with a sharp knife (this helps it sit on a cutting board more securely without rolling around). Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. I like to position the squash vertically on cut end, then peel the skin off by cutting down, along the sides with a knife. It's simple to rotate the squash as you go. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds, plus the stringy layer just beneath. Cube the flesh into approximately 1 inch pieces of uniform size (for even cooking). You should have about 5 cups, give or take. Place squash on a baking sheet.
Toss squash—using clean hands— with enough olive oil to lightly coat the surfaces, plus garam masala, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread squash evenly, in a single layer, across the pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until cubes are soft and golden brown in spots. Turn with a spatula at least once during cooking.
Remove from oven and drizzle with up to 2 tablespoons syrup. Divide butter into several small pieces and place on top of squash. Turn the vegetables over a few times on the baking sheet to coat them, and return to the oven for 1 minute. Remove for the oven and transfer to a serving bowl (scraping as much of the syrup residue from the pan as possible). Squeeze lemon juice to taste over the squash and add more salt to taste as well. Toss well.