Cinnamon-roasted butternut squash

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 6:00 am

We didn’t grow up eating a lot of squash in my family, but it’s not because my mom didn’t make it.

My mom has always loved squash, of any kind. And the family joke was that when my tiny, birdlike mom ate squash, she ate a squash – literally the entire thing – in one sitting. (Likewise, in the summer, she doesn’t just eat some watermelon. She eats a watermelon.)

I remember the scent on those autumn afternoons as Mom would bake acorn squash, seasoned with salt and pepper.

But I thought squash was gross.

In general, squash – like naps and not paying bills – is underappreciated by children. I thought it looked weird and impenetrable and tasted like the smell of carving a pumpkin.

So although Mom loved it, it never had a place on our table – Thanksgiving or otherwise. It was basically an afternoon snack for Mom in the fall.

Luckily my tastes have evolved since I was a kid, and I now have a much greater liking for squash, especially butternut which I think has a slightly sweeter, less pumpkiny taste to it that makes it an excellent addition to soups, stews and salads – or just on its own.

I asked my mom to pick up a butternut squash for me recently when she was heading out of town to do some shopping.

She knows I hate shopping and that I like to buy as much as I can locally. So every time she’s making a trip, bless her heart, she checks to see if there’s anything I need that I haven’t been able to find in our local stores.

I sent her a short list – my favorite kind of yogurt, a bag of my dogs’ special food, that sort of thing – and a butternut squash.

My mom is so adorable. I got a message from her later that said, “When you say butternut squash, I think of the dark green, round ones, but a true butternut squash is kind of orange, and a weird shape. Which one were you thinking of?”

The, uh, butternut squash.

I told her I was making this dish, which is seasoned with cinnamon and maple, making the squash taste a bit like roasted apples – and with the crunch of some pecans. It’s an easy side dish for Thanksgiving – or any fall meal.

So she brought me two of the butternut squash.

“You can make the second one with just salt and pepper,” she said.

For the recipe, see the Banner's online or print edition.

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