Make Ahead

Annaliese's roasted butternut squash with cranberry and pear accents

October 24, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I wanted to explore a savory but slightly sweet version of roasted butternut squash. At first I tried pairing the squash with parsnip, but the results were disappointing. After making mrslarkin's wonderful caramel pears this weekend, I had some extra pears leftover. And this led to the pairing that worked out well for this new recipe! Pears are not as easy to switch up as apples, though, because they can break down so fast while baking. A crisp, firm pear will work best. The Barlett holds up well, though I sometimes prefer the flavors of other varieties more. Pears can vary tremendously even among their same varieties. If the pear does become mush, the taste will still be pretty delightful. But to avoid this plight altogether, I am suggesting a staggered roasting along with a careful eye. What I want to achieve here is a crunchy burst of flavor along the top and sides of the squash. Ground sumac lends a sour lemony, nutty crunch perfect for this. Demerara sugar and ground pink peppercorns further enhance this crunch. Maple syrup and cranberries finish off the sweet/sour layering. For a savory dessert you can increase the maple syrup and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche. —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • coating of olive oil for baking dish
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 2 pears, a crisp variety for best results
  • 2 ounces or so of dried premium cranberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground pink peppercorns, less if you are using black or white
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (or more, to your taste)
  • healthy pinch of pink Himalayan or kosher salt
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 2 tablespoons or so of unsalted premium butter
  • fresh sprigs of lavender or rosemary for garnish
  • optional light drizzle of maple syrup for serving
  • optional squeeze of lemon for serving
  • for a dessert version, drizzle with more maple syrup and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche
  1. Lop off the top and bottom minimal ends of the squash. Vigorously peel off all the skin. Along the vertical axis chop the squash down the middle. With conviction scoop out all of the seeds, as well as all the fuzziness from the cavity. I find a metal tablespoon best for this job because it can so precisely scrape out just the messy bits, while keeping the solid flesh in tact. Proceed to dice the squash into clean, crisp one inch or so generous chunks.
  2. Pare the pair of pears (please indulge me here- I just had to employ all three homophones in at least one sentence). Cutting just shy of the core, dice the pears into bite size chunks.
  3. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil. Layer in the squash chunks first. Judiciously distribute the cranberries next. Mix the sugar, sumac, pepper and salt (to taste) together; sprinkle this mix on top, liberally coating the squash, as illustrated in the photo. Feel free to make more mix to have on hand as a topping. Adjust how much you use to suit your own taste. If you don't want so much crunch, switch up the type of sugar. Squeeze a bit of lemon over the top. Metering the syrup, pour this over the top evenly. Finally, distribute curls of unsalted butter democratically across the top.
  4. Roast in a preheated oven of 375 for about 20 minutes. Then sneak the pears in to the dish, as unobtrusively as possible; return to roasting for about 25-35 more minutes. When perfectly tender, let the dish rest for about 5 minutes.
  5. Pop in a garnish of fresh herbal sprigs, delicately drizzle a tad of maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth, and squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon over each portion. Top with creme fraiche and more maple syrup for a savory dessert.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emilia Rosa
    Emilia Rosa
  • torreyb
  • mrslarkin
  • luvcookbooks
  • TiggyBee

30 Reviews

Emilia R. August 21, 2013
This sounds very interesting--especially because I love cranberries. I wonder if it could be made with fresh cranberries... I confess I have no idea what "pink Himalayan salt" is. Does it have a different taste?
Sagegreen August 21, 2013
I like the texture, color and taste of the pink Himalayan. But feel free to substitute any good grainy kind of salt. Kosher would work fine. I think fresh cranberries would add lots of tartness, so maybe just lightly sweeten them somehow with a drizzle of maply syrup or some such. I have been away up in Maine where I have just gotten married. Sorry for a delay in response!!
Emilia R. August 21, 2013
Thank you for your answer. And congratulations on your marriage!
Gay G. November 30, 2011
Still great -- even a year later!!~
Gay G. November 30, 2011
Still great -- even a year later!!~
Gay G. November 30, 2011
Still great -- even a year later!!~
Sagegreen November 30, 2011
Thanks, Gay Gooen Cooks!
Gay G. November 30, 2011
Still great -- even a year later!!~
torreyb November 7, 2010
delicious - as we were strangely out of sumac, we added lavender and rosemary to the dish, which added a wonderful savory depth to the dish. will be making this one again!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, torryb! So glad you enjoyed this. When I wrote this recipe up, I had just met Judith Jones, who really inspired me to think about writing recipes. Love your additions.
mrslarkin October 27, 2010
I can't decide what I like best, your brilliant writing, your creativity, your good humor, or Step 2. Great recipe, Sagegreen!
Sagegreen October 27, 2010
Thank you, mrslarkin. Recently, I just starting discovering style in the way recipes are written, really for the first time, thanks to this site!
luvcookbooks October 27, 2010
Now that I know you are an artist, I see it every time I look at the recipes and the photos. Creative and visually beautiful, thanks!
Sagegreen October 27, 2010
Thank you so much! Isn't food just the perfect subject?
TiggyBee October 26, 2010
This is just stunning Sagegreen.
Sagegreen October 26, 2010
Thanks, TiggyBee. I want to have this at the Thanksgiving table.
Table9 October 25, 2010
This is so unique! I am a true foodie...cannot wait to try it out!
Sagegreen October 25, 2010
Thanks. One of the places you can order sumac, if you need to find it:
World Spice Merchants
Sagegreen October 25, 2010
And please let me know what you think!
Table9 October 25, 2010
I will def let you know! I cannot wait to try it!
lapadia October 25, 2010
WOW...saved this!
Sagegreen October 25, 2010
Thanks! I have to confess that I just learned about this neat "save" feature.
TheWimpyVegetarian October 24, 2010
This looks soooo good! And what a great photo. I've got to make this really soon. I'm loving all these wonderful butternut recipes!!
Sagegreen October 24, 2010
Thanks! Aren't all these butternut recipes wonderful?
ellenl October 24, 2010
This is gorgeous!
Sagegreen October 24, 2010
Many thanks! It is simple,yet really pronouncedly flavorful, and without any meat!!!
aargersi October 24, 2010
This sounds wonderful, love the addition of the pair of pared pears :-) I really need to hunt down some sumac ...
Sagegreen October 24, 2010
Thanks. This is kinda what determined the two pears vs. one or three! For the caramelized topping, it is so worth tracking down the sumac!!!
JoanG October 24, 2010
THis sounds amazing and your photo s spectacular!
Sagegreen October 24, 2010
Thanks, JoanG. I really enjoyed working on this recipe!