Every fall, the sight of winter squashes in all their glory - stacked in bins at the supermarket, arranged in piles at the farmers market - brings me a shiver of joy almost as invigorating as the realization that I can finally turn on the oven at any time of day without worrying it’ll overheat the house. Roasting is my preferred way to cook so many vegetables, and these babies are no exception.
My favorite varieties are the drier, firmer ones such as kabocha, acorn and red kuri, partly because they turn so nutty and caramelized in the oven, but also because they soak up sauces so nicely. A bonus: You don’t have to bother peeling them, because roasting turns the peel perfectly easy - pleasant, even - to eat.
Cookbook author Alison Roman employs the same calculation in her new book, “Nothing Fancy.” She gives roasted squash a treatment reminiscent of the London-based vegetable whisperer Yotam Ottolenghi, piling it on a platter swooshed with yogurt and topping it with pistachios swimming in spicy browned butter. The combination of hot, sweet, salty and sour turns this simple dish into something you’ll be proud to serve for company, making it live up to the book’s ethos of, as the subtitle declares, “unfussy food for having people over.”
It’s a good side dish or app for a party, to be sure, but you don’t have to have anybody over to appreciate it. I made it once for my husband and a couple of guests, then ate the leftovers as a solo dinner over rice. It didn’t look quite as pretty that next day, but the taste was out of this world, once again.
ROASTED SQUASH WITH YOGURT AND SPICED, BUTTERED PISTACHIOS
Active: 15 minutes | Total: 55 minutes
4 to 6 servings
This treatment of the soon-to-be-ubiquitous winter squash caramelizes the flesh and combines it with delectable nuts, spices and yogurt. Serve as a side dish, or with rice or flatbread as a main course.
NOTE: If you use a thick-skinned squash variety, such as those listed here, there is no need to peel; the skin becomes soft enough to eat. If you use a thinner-skinned squash, such as butternut or honey nut, peel and cut it into 1-inch-thick slices rather than wedges.
Make Ahead: The squash can be roasted several hours ahead, wrapped loosely and stored at room temperature, or wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to 5 days. The buttered pistachios can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Before serving, bring the squash to room temperature or warm in a low oven or microwave, and re-melt the butter in the pistachios on the stove top or in the microwave.
1 winter squash (about 2 pounds), preferably kabocha, red kuri or acorn
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (may substitute vegan butter, such as Earth Balance)
1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 to 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
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1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt (may substitute low- or nonfat Greek yogurt or your favorite nondairy yogurt)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle.
Using a large, sharp knife, stab the squash in the middle and carefully work the knife down to cut the squash in half, going through the stem. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the squash halves into 1 1/2-inch wedges, leaving the peel on.
On a large, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash with the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until the squash is very tender and golden brown with caramelized bits.
Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter has browned and started to foam, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the pistachios, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and pinch of red pepper flakes, if using. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, taste, and add more salt, if needed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Spread the yogurt sauce over a large serving platter or bowl. Arrange the squash on the sauce and spoon the buttered pistachios over everything. Sprinkle with another pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.
Nutrition (based on 6 servings) | Calories: 260; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 25 mg; Sodium: 200 mg; Carbohydrates: 21 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 2 g; Protein: 7 g.
Source: Adapted from “Nothing Fancy” by Alison Roman. Clarkson Potter, 2019