This garlic and herb butternut squash is an easy but crazy flavorful side dish to add to your Thanksgiving menu. It is naturally vegan, paleo and gluten-free. It can be made entirely on the stove-top so it won’t have to jockey for position in the oven.
The technique to make this squash is really easy. Just cut up the butternut squash into cubes (about 1 inch each.) If you want to buy pre-cut squash that is fine. Use 8 cups or about 2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds. If you are cutting your own, peel the squash first with a good vegetable peeler. Wash your hands afterwards since the vitamin A in the squash will actually start to break down the outer layer of skin. The result are roughed up dry palms. Or wear gloves. Then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
When I cut a butternut squash I separate the rounded bottom part that houses the seeds from the long solid part. I find doing that makes it easier to cut the squash into evenly sized pieces.
Once your squash is cut up. Steam it in a saucepan with a steamer basket. While that is happening, chop up some garlic and herbs. For the herbs, try to use about 1 part parsley and 1 part a blend of woody herbs, such as sage, rosemary and thyme. Don’t use 1/3 cup of straight woody herbs without the parsley or it will be medicinally strong. This recipe also works with tender fines herbs (parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives) but I think it’s better suited to serve with beef or fish.
While the squash is cooking, cook the garlic in the oil. I go heavy on the extra-virgin olive oil but you can use less if you’re trying to cut calories. I think it is really nice to have a generous coating of the oil because it keeps the squash moist and carries the savory flavors. Plus this recipe makes enough for ten people, so you are not going to even get a full teaspoon of oil per serving. It is important to watch the garlic while it sizzles in the oil. You want it to start to brown, otherwise it is too strong and raw tasting, but you also don’t want to take it to the point where it is toasted or burnt. As soon as you see color on the garlic, transfer the garlic and oil to a large mixing bowl. The room temperature bowl will stop the browning of the garlic. Then immediately add the herbs, to bloom them in the hot oil.
Once the squash is tender (just check it with a fork to see if it is cooked through) lift the steamer basket carefully out of the saucepan and tip the squash into the bowl with the garlic and herbs. Add some salt and pepper and toss everything to coat. If you overcooked the squash by mistake that is fine, but be very gentle while stirring so you don’t end up with mush.
Transfer the squash to a thick ceramic serving dish, and cover. Keep warm until everything else is ready. Or you can always microwave it or pop it in the oven (if there is room) to reheat it.
A savory and easy side dish for Thanksgiving. Garlic and herbs add tons of flavor to steamed butternut squash. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, paleo and vegan.
- 1 large butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (2.75 to 3 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme and rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add squash to the basket, cover and steam until the squash is tender, 13 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until the garlic is fragrant and just starting to brown slightly, 1 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour the garlic and oil into a large mixing bowl, add herbs and stir.
- Add the cooked squash to the garlic herb mixture. Add salt and pepper and gently stir to combine. Keep warm until ready to serve.
A 2.75 pound squash (untrimmed with seeds and peel) yields 6 cups cooked squash. A large squash will work great, but you'll have to add a pinch more salt. Just taste to see.
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