Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Butternut Squash with Marcona Almonds

Unlike when autumn hits up north, we don't see a lot of squash in the grocery produce section down here (at least not in this part of the South).  As a former recipient and enthusiast of many winter squashes from our old CSA supplier, I get a little nostalgic for squash dishes when the days start to get shorter (even if the outdoor temperature is still nicely warm), so I finally decided to dust off a recipe I'd been sitting on since February 2012.  This twist on butternut squash puree may look like baby food when it's finished, but I can assure you that it's high-class baby food (and I should also mention that it's insanely simple to prepare).  Chef Mark Mendez of Vera in Chicago (one of our favorite Spanish restaurants) roasts a 3-pound butternut squash with clove and cinnamon resting in the hollow underneath the halves, then purees the bright yellow flesh in a blender with some heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar, finally topping it with chopped Marcona almonds, a little honey, and some sea salt.  Since Marconas can be hard to find (and are expensive if you do find them), I used some plain roasted almonds instead, and the final dish came out beautifully (especially when paired with a tomato and fish stew), a great mixture of sweet, rich, and crunchy.  As daylight continues to fade towards the winter solstice over the next few weeks, I look forward to my next opportunity to whip up this side dish...

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