Well, I might as well tell you now I’m one of those people that love winter.
The long nights, the snow, rain and especially the gloom. Bring it, I say.
I’ve been drinking hot chocolate like it’s my job.
The other day I couldn’t figure out why my car door wouldn’t open until I realized it wasn’t my car – there was so much snow piled on top I didn’t recognize it.
Duh! Both cars were blue!
Staying home in the winter months is very appealing, and I do it every chance I get.
It’s hard to deny the allure of staying in and shuffling around, reading and maybe organizing a little. For me, cooking and baking things that take a little time is a real treat, since I feel like I’m running around all the time.
I am lucky to have access to a weekly community supported agriculture (CSA) box that I subscribe to year-round, and I plan most meals around what’s inside of it.
In winter, the boxes almost always have beautiful, organic squash, and potatoes, carrots and onions, plus sometimes broccoli and radicchio and cauliflower. We also get an occasional bag of organic almonds or a small pouch of sun-dried tomatoes. Both are welcome little surprises that never go unused in my kitchen.
Every now and then we’ll get an offer from the farm to purchase the house-made roasted salsa – some of the best I’ve ever eaten – which is bright and tasty on its own or very good on top of a rolled cheese omelet.
I love all varieties of squash, and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it.
This is almost a non-recipe, in that you combine a few basic ingredients to season the squash, and inside an un-hurried oven, the flavors come together like magic or something close.
Keep your eye out for the crispy caramelized edges – they are addicting – and I personally challenge you to not pick them up with your fingers and eat the glorious maple shellacked spears – skin and all – right there over the baking tray.
Make the most of your long winter days..
- 2 acorn squash seeds removed, sliced 2" thick
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
- pinch 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- FOR SERVING:
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. flake sea salt
- Heat oven to 400 and position oven rack to the bottom third of your oven.
- Place some parchment paper on a standard baking sheet (approx. 18" x 13") to cover the bottom of the baking sheet.
- FOR THE SQUASH:
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, sea salt, pepper, parsley flakes and crushed pepper - whisk with a fork to combine.
- Add the cut squash and use your fingers to rub the mixture onto each sliced piece. Place on a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and using tongs, turn each piece over.
- Lower oven temperature to 375, and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes, until squash is knife tender and crispy and brown on the edges.
- Remove from oven and place on serving platter.
- FOR SERVING:
- Crumble the goat cheese, fresh parsley, olive oil and sea salt on top of the squash and serve.