Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Butternut squash with green beans

My blogging laziness in the past month is embarrassing. I do have an excuse -- I am swamped with Helen's Kitchen gift certificates. But still enough is enough. I have a ton of yummy pictures on my camera and a ton of recipes in my head. It's about time I get off my ass and posted something useful for the holidays.

Here is my new favorite side dish for the Tender at the Bone class: roasted butternut squash and sauteed green beans with cranberries and nuts. It has two unbeatable qualities: yumminess and flexibility. It tastes good hot, it taste good warm, it even tastes good cold. I bet you can't say that about mashed potatoes. In the Tender at the Bone class, I want my students to concentrated on the meat. Sure, the braises are forgiving, but the medium-rare dishes require a lot of attention. Who has time to worry about the side dish when the doneness of their steak is on the line. This veggie dish is a savior. It goes well with any meat or poultry and can happily sit for a few hours at room temperature while you fret over your meat.

I don't peel the squash. The skin crisps up beautifully during roasting and becomes delicious. If you have some picky guests, they can easily remove it at the time of eating, but I find that most people love it. The grassiness of the beans is such a wonderful contrast to the squash with its caramelized edges and creamy flesh. Once the beans are done, I toss them in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, Japanese style soy sauce, and honey. It coats them in a light glaze, and elevates the boring old green beans to a whole new level.

If you need to feed a crowd this holiday season, this dish might come in handy.

Serves 8

For the squash:
1 large butternut squash
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the green beans:
1 Lb snapped green beans (I prefer to use the thin "French" ones)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Japanese style soy sauce (or Teriyaki sauce)
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup chopped cashews or almonds
1/2 cup dries cranberries or cherries or golden raisins

Roast squash:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and set a rack at the lowest position.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and slice crosswise into 2/3 inch thick half circles.
  3. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides, drizzle with olive oil (enough to generously coat all squash slices), and rub all over with your hands. Arrange the squash slices so that the solid half circles are around the edges of the pan, and the thin slices (cut from the part of the squash that had seeds) are in the middle of the pan. This way they'll cook more evenly since the edges are hotter than the center of the pan.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven (on the lowest rack) and roast until the bottom of the squash slices is golden brown (30-45 minutes). Don't move the squash around until you get some browning. When the bottom of the slices has a nice color, flip, and roast until the other side is golden brown (15-25 minutes longer).
Cook green beans:
  1. Spread the green beans on a towel after washing to remove extra moisture. This way, they won't splatter quite as much.
  2. Set a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and wait for it to heat up. Swirl the pan to coat it evenly with oil. Add the beans and cover the pan. Cook covered for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of green beans, uncovering the pan and stirring the beans with tongs every minute. The beans should be developing little brown patches. As soon as they are crisp tender (err on the side of too crisp), take them off the heat and uncover.
  3. Mix vinegar, soy sauce, and honey in a little bowl and pour over the beans. Sprinkle with nuts and cranberries. Return beans to medium heat and cook tossing constantly until the liquid is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Pour the beans into a serving dish and arrange the squash slices on top. Serve whenever convenient.


Joanne said...

Squash is one of my favorites. Just a little salt and pepper, completely unadulterated, and all the natural sweetness just oozes from that delicious vegetable.
Your photos are making me hungry!

Irina said...

I love butternut squash! I had dental surgery last week and have been eating mostly soft foods since then. The best dinner I had in the past week was pureed roasted butternut squash, seasoned with a bit of kosher salt and butter.