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Butternut Squash Baked w/ Bay Leaves, Butter, & Brown Sugar

 Some may look at this and see a tempting side dish.  I however, look at it and see dessert in an earthenware dish.  Since butternut squash is already pretty sweet in its own rite, when it's given any sort of "sweet treatment", it seems like a satisfying way to wrap up a meal.  Don't get me wrong, I love roasting squash with a dab of oil and some seasoning and eating alongside some roasted turkey, or atop a bed of winter greens, or even tucked into a hearty grain salad with fresh bursts of herbs.  But when butter and brown sugar come a knockin', this dessert train's a rockin'!  Let me also just throw it out there that the sweetness is tempered beautifully by the addition of a few errant bay leaves.  It's funny, really.  You can't imagine the impact these unassuming little leaves can make.

Oh, and p.s.- if you don't want to bother with the whole pesky peeling-a-winter-squash-thing?  Don't.  Once roasted, the skin turns beautifully chewy and palatable.  I actually look forward to the outside bits the most.  

Butternut Squash baked w/ Bay Leaves, Butter, & Brown Sugar

by Heather Schmitt-González inspired by Tessa Kiros (Apples for Jam)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes
Keywords: roast side dessert vegetarian squash butter Christmas Thanksgiving American

Ingredients (varies)
  • Butternut squash
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • bay leaves
  • sea salt
  • water
Remove the seeds from the squash. Cut into slices that are ~½" thick. You can peel it if you like, but I like the chewiness that results from roasting it unpeeled.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Rub the bottom and sides of a baking dish with a bit of butter. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over that.

Lay the squash in a single layer. Sprinkle with a bit more brown sugar. Sprinkle a couple good pinches of sea salt over that. Tuck a couple of bay leaves in and around the squash. Dot with a few more small blobs of butter. Add a splash or two of water.

Slide into preheated oven and roast until squash is tender, basting occasionally. It's okay (actually it's wonderful) if you wind up with a few golden brown spots. Just take care not to let the squash get mush (unless of course, you like it that way...then roast away).

Adjust this recipe by using a bit more (or less) of each ingredient and a larger baking dish. Baking time may be a bit longer for a larger amount of squash. You can serve it as a side dish, or (my personal preferance) as dessert.

Roasted slices of butternut squash resting in a sticky syrup made from the sugar and butter reducing with awesome, grassy green undertones from the bay leaves. I think a small hit of finely grated lemon zest scattered over the top right as it comes out of the oven would add another dimension to the dish...a bit of a bright citrus finish.
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