When hiking in the Canadian Rockies last summer with a group of fellow Nature-lovers, we stayed at the Mt. Engadine Lodge, a beautiful little gem of a place set in the midst of a pristine meadow. The chef, Brenda, turned out amazing things from her little kitchen on a daily basis.
(Forgive me, fellow hikers, for not posting this recipe 'til now! It's not easy to think about flavors like squash and maple syrup when it's still 102 degrees in my city. But at last Autumn has come, even to Los Angeles, and my mind--and taste buds--turn to All Things Roasty and Cozy.)
Chef Brenda notes this recipe, Maple-Roasted Squash, is one of her most popular with the lodge guests. She says, "People who thought they never liked squash love this dish. And people who like squash looooove this dish!"
Ooooh, Brenda, you are so right; this recipe is the food of the gods. It is Squash's gift to Mankind. It is...well, you just have to try it, people. It's going to be a favorite of yours. I just know it.
So, here it is, just in time for Thanksgiving!
Please note: This recipe is very much subject to taste. There are few hard-and-fast requirements in it; a little less butter, a little more sweet potato, substituting cinnamon for cardamom--it's all probably fine. Think of this more as a a suggested guideline than a recipe in the strict sense of the word.
I've printed the recipe at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, I'll give you the step-by-step version. Here is our Cast of Characters:
Begin by roasting a whole butternut squash and a sweet potato until nicely done and squishy:
Cut them in half, scoop out the squash's seeds, and plop the flesh of both veggies into a large mixing bowl:
Toss in some butter and ground cardamom and stir until the butter melts:
Taste, and if you like more sweetness, add some maple syrup or brown sugar:
Salt and pepper to taste:
Then add two eggs and beat the mixture until it gets light and fluffy. This is most easily done with an electric mixer, but if you don't have one, you can approximate the fluffiness with a wire whisk and a whole lot of upper-arm workout:
Pour the whipped mixture into a buttered casserole dish:
And pop it in the oven to bake. While it's baking, make a topping out of bread crumbs or ginger snaps crumbs, combined with a little freshly grated nutmeg:
Combine the crumbs and nutmeg in a small bowl, and add some melted butter:
Oh, lordy! At this point it's all I can do, not to eat the topping as is! Anyhow, mix the butter into the crumbs:
About 15 minutes before the casserole is fully cooked, take it out of the oven. It will look something like this:
Sprinkle the crumbs over the top, and return the casserole to the oven:
Remove from the oven and dig in!
Mt. Engadine Lodge's
(Yields 3 or 4 servings)
1 butternut squash
1 small-to-medium sweet potato
1/3 C. butter (plus another 1/4 C., melted and reserved for the topping)
1 tsp. cardamom
brown sugar or maple syrup, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 to 3/4 C. bread crumbs or crushed ginger snaps
grated fresh nutmeg, to taste
Preheat oven to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the whole squash and sweet potato in the preheated oven and roast for about an hour (both take the same time to cook).
Remove from oven, cut each in half, scoop the seeds out of the squash, and place the flesh of both in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/3 C. butter and the cardamom and stir until butter melts. Taste to see how sweet the mixture is; if needed, add a little brown sugar or maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add two eggs, and beat entire mixture with an electric mixer until it gets light and fluffy.
Pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish (if you are doubling this recipe, an 11x7 dish or a 13x9 should do; if you aren't doubling it, an 8x8 dish works). Bake about 45 - 60 minutes. Fifteen minutes before finishing, mix together in a small bowl the 1/4 C. melted butter with the bread crumbs or ginger snaps and nutmeg. Sprinkle over top of casserole and let it finish baking, about 15 minutes more.