Roasted Winter Squash

serves: 6 servings

By roasting the vegetable here, the squash, like Cinderella, is transformed. It becomes the centerpiece rather than a side dish.

ingredients
3 pounds winter squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, for the baking sheet
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Orange Sauce, To Serve (optional)
4 medium oranges, or more as needed
1½ cups leek chunks, (1-inch pieces)
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
3 tablespoons soft butter, for thickening the sauce

directions


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash in half through the stem and blossom ends. Scoop out all the seeds and fibers so the flesh is clean. Place each half cut side down and, with a sharp chef's knife, cut straight across to trim the ends of the squash. Then cut the squash into even slices (cutting cross-wise) or wedges (cutting lengthwise)-all about 2-inches thick at the widest part.

Remove the peel from the squash slices with a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife. (With acorn squash, strip off the peel just from the top of the ridges; this will help the pieces cook faster and creates a decorative striped look.)

Pile the squash in a mixing bowl, drizzle the oil and sprinkle the salt over the pile and toss to coat the slices with the seasonings.

Spread the butter on a large baking sheet (or line it with a non-stick silicon sheet.). Lay the slices flat on the sheet with plenty of space between them for even caramelization.

Bake about 20 minutes then flip the pieces over; bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until they are tender all the way through (poke with a fork to check) and nicely caramelized on the edges.

Serve hot, piling up the squash pieces on top of a pool of orange sauce; drizzle Balsamic reduction in thin streaks all over the top.

The squash is also delicious with just one of the sauces or with only a final drizzle of good olive oil and another sprinkle of salt before serving by itself!