Loaded Butternut Squash

Oven-roasted butternut squash piled high with a sage-hazelnut stuffing.

Butternut squash is a fall staple in my kitchen. Like other winter squashes, eating butternut squash is a great way to get in fiber, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. But far too often, we relegate it to soup. Maybe the occasional ravioli or autumnal salad. But there is SO much more you can do with it!

This oven-roasted butternut squash recipe plays up some of my favorite cooler-weather flavors. The squash is halved and roasted whole, topped with an easy-to-make compound butter made with sage, hazelnuts and garlic. These earthy, comforting flavors were made for each other. 

For added crunch and festivity, go the extra mile and top with Panko bread crumbs and pomegranate seeds — seasonal gems that add a cheery pop of color. I am a sucker for anything you can throw in the oven, forget about, and serve immediately after pulling out of the oven. This recipe takes minutes to prep, but looks fancy and sounds impressive.

Serve this up on a weeknight, or treat your Thanksgiving or Christmas guests to this beautiful, minimal-prep side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you’re vegetarian, this is a tasty, filling vegetarian dinner that won’t leave you feeling hungry before bedtime. You could even go the vegan route by swapping the butter for coconut oil.

Ingredients

  • Hazelnuts
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Optional

  • Panko bread crumbs (for added crunch)
  • Pomegranate seeds (for a pop of color and sweetness)

Substitutions

Hazelnuts can be swapped for another nut of your choosing — perhaps walnuts, pine nuts or macadamia nuts.

Feel free to get creative with the herbs, though there is nothing quite like sage and butter. Consider including a mix of your favorite herbs or substituting sage for thyme or rosemary.

If you decide to use bread crumbs to amp up the crunch factor, you can use any kind you like. I personally prefer Panko because they’re so light and airy.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place butternut squash halves on pan, skin side down. Be sure to scoop out the seeds to make room for the topping. Drizzle squash with olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt to enhance the flavor of the vegetable.

You’re going to bake the squash for 25 minutes, then remove from oven, place the topping on the squash and bake for another 25 minutes. By only baking the topping for half of the time the squash is in the oven, you don’t run the risk of burning the topping and bread crumbs.

Creating the topping is super easy and takes just a minute. In a food processor, combine hazelnuts, sage, garlic and salt. Process ingredients until texture is coarse. See the photo below for an idea of what I’m talking about.

In a bowl, stir softened butter and topping mixture together until butter is evenly distributed.

Place topping mixture in the crevices where you removed the seeds and all over the squash halves. Here’s where you sprinkle with bread crumbs for an extra crunch.

Sprinkle with pepper to your tastes and bake for another 25 minutes until tender. Check tenderness by inserting a fork.

Sprinkle on some pomegranate seeds, toss some herbs on the plate and dig in!

Loaded Butternut Squash

Oven-roasted butternut squash piled high with a sage-hazelnut stuffing.
Prep Time 12 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 butternut squash halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • 1/2 c. hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c. sage
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp. butter softened
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • Pepper to taste

Optional

  • 3 tbsp. panko bread crumbs for added crunch
  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Place butternut squash halves on pan, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes and remove from oven.
  • Create topping by combining hazelnuts, sage, garlic and salt in food processor. Process ingredients until texture is even and coarse. In a bowl, stir softened butter and topping mixture.
  • Place topping mixture all over the squash halves and fill crevices with mixture. Optional: Sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs for an extra crunch.
  • Sprinkle with pepper to taste and bake for another 25 minutes. Insert a fork into the squash to ensure it’s tender and ready to eat, then enjoy as a side dish or vegetarian main course!

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