Holiday Dinner Menu (Part 1)
A few friends came to visit from out of town this past Thanksgiving weekend. Jeff and I got the honor to host a dinner party on Friday. Both of us were very pleased with how the food turned out. Jeff had made this delicious peppery oven roasted beef with gravy along with sweet potato as a side dish. I prepared a salad medley of artichoke, avocado, and heart of palm and a side dish of roasted butternut squash with Gouda cheese and pine nuts.
I’ve always been intrigued by butternut squash and been wanted to learn about the types of dish I could create from it. Though I must admit that I was a bit nervous about cooking this winter squash since I did not grow up with any dish made from it.
Anyway, I had found a simple roasted squash recipe from Whole Foods that I thought I could use as the base of my dish. I felt like the recipe still needed some dressing up but I wasn’t sure what would work best. So I talked to a foodie and a cooking enthusiast friend, Leena, who shared a recipe she had made a few Thanksgivings ago. The idea was to cube the squash, roast them with a little chicken/vegetable stock for more complex taste, and then add soft cheese and nuts as the topping. It sounded divine and I trusted my friend’s taste in food. And I was so happy with the result.
So here’s how I did mine:
-I preheated the oven to 400F
-I cubed one small butternut squash and then cut the skin off with a knife (I found it to be much easier than trying to peel the whole thing).
-Then I placed the cubes on an oven tray and drizzled them with olive oil
-I also added 1/3 cup of chicken (or vegetable) stock on the tray
-Let the squash roast for 28 minutes
While the squash was cooking in the oven, I grated Gouda cheese in a food processor. (The amount of cheese depends on your preference. I used about two handful of it.) Then I added two tablespoons of pine nuts into the processor to be chopped and mixed together with the cheese. Jeff had chosen Gouda for the soft cheese due to taste preference and I chose to use pine nuts since they complement baked dishes and fruits/salad pretty well. Add chopped almonds for extra crunch.
After 28 minutes, I turned the heat off and took the roasted squash out of the oven. I sprinkled the cheese and nuts mix evenly on top of the hot squash. Then I returned the dish to the oven (with the heat off) for another two minutes to melt the cheese. I removed the tray immediately from the oven and let it cool down for 10-15 minutes before serving.
The dish was full of flavor as I wanted it to be. The chicken stock, smoky Gouda cheese, and chewy and nutty pine nuts gave this roasted butternut squash dish (as a friend described) “a very sophisticated taste.” Sure enough the plate was cleaned in no time. It was definitely a great side dish for a winter dinner party.