Thursday, July 2, 2009

Butternut Apple Bake

Squash is everywhere here in Swaziland. They eat it like mashed potatoes with melted butter and milk. They cut butternut squash into thick slices and drizzle it with butter and sugar and bake it for so long that it melts in your mouth and tastes like heaven on earth. They boil slices of sweet pumpkin for a snack. So when I found a 2 pound bag of butternut squash at the grocery store the other day for only about $1.50, I thought of the bag of apples I had sitting in my room at home and bought them, along with an onion. Later, I pulled these three ingredients out, chopped them up, drizzled some olive oil and spices over them, and left them to do their thing in the oven. I let them bake for about 55 minutes until they were very soft and the juice from the apples was bubbling on the bottom of the pan. You could serve this as a hot side dish, but what I recommend is to chill them overnight and then eat them cold the next day. I don't know what happened in that fridge, but something magical took place and they tasted amazing when I took my first bite this evening. I didn't even bother to warm them up after tasting them cold; I just spooned them into a bowl and ate, and it was wonderful and satisfying. I think that I will try this with a mixture of butternut squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes to go with the apples; you could really use any kind of squash or potato you have on hand and serve it as a potato/squash salad. Or you could heat it up and eat it with rice. It's versatile, so just make it work for what you have!

Butternut Apple Bake

1.5 lbs chopped butternut squash
3 small apples, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped into slices
2 - 3 tbsp. olive oil or gluten-free buttery spread
Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, and Basil sprinkled to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 - 3 tbsp. brown sugar

Chop the onion and arrange on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Chop the butternut squash into equal-sized pieces and chop the apples, and arrange over the onions. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole thing. Add the salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, and oregano to taste and stir to coat all of the pieces. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, testing for doneness. Add more seasoning or brown sugar according to your own taste. You can either serve immediately when it is hot or chill to serve as a cold side dish.

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