During the winter months, the winter squashes like Butternut Squash are plentiful. What better way to have Butternut Squash, than to have it baked to perfection with Apples, Cranberries, and Pears, Pecans, and Cinnamon! All of the sentiments of the holiday season.
When I think of pecans, sweet potato casserole or pecan pie normally comes to my mind. Chef AJ’s recipe, Holiday Baked Yams from her book, Unprocessed, inspired me to make this recipe using Butternut instead and it came out perfectly. What excites me even more about this recipe is that it’s guilt-free! There is no added sugar, oils, flours, alcohol, or salt (SOFAS Free). Just simple whole ingredients baked to deliciousness perfection.
Butternut squash has a very “earthy” taste, but with all of the fruits, spices, the tartiness of fresh lemon juice, and the spices, the squash has the perfect touch of sweetness with a little sweet potato flare And let’s not forget the Caramel Date Glazed Pecans that adds the perfect sweet crunch! Yummy! But no worries if you nut allergies, no worries; the dish is just as good without them.
I will let you in on a little secret about this dish. The longer it sits after being baked, the better it tastes. Do not attempt to eat this dish piping hot from being baked. Allow the dish to completely cool and then taste. It is the perfect make in advance kind of dish just for that very reason. Leftovers from this dish are truly worth “living” for!
The holiday season is upon us! This is the perfect holiday-bake for your holiday spread! Enjoy!
1mediumButternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed(about 2 1/2 lbs in weight)
1/2cupCranberries(fresh or frozen)
2largeGala Apples(seeded and chopped)
1largeNavel Orange, juiced and zest(about 1/2 cup of juice)
1 15oz canPears, canned in juice(Be sure the canned pears are in 100% juice - not syrup)
3TbspFresh lemon Juice
1/4tspApple Pie Spice
1/4tspVanilla Bean Powder
Caramel Date Glazed Pecans
1 1/4cupPecans, unsalted, chopped
1/4cupCaramel Date Paste(Prepare in advance - see recipe notes)
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Preheat oven to 400F.
Peel, remove the seeds and dice the squash into bite-size pieces. Measure out 6 cups of squash and place it into a very large mixing bowl. Any remaining Squash into a freezer bag and freeze.
Seed and cut the apples into bite-size pieces. Add the chopped apples and cranberries to the bowl. Then add the zest from the orange to the bowl. Set aside.
Juice the orange and add it to a blender. Add the entire contents of the canned pears to the blender. Add the lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, apple pie spice, and vanilla bean powder to the blender. Blend. Do not worry if the pears are completely smoothed.
Pour the contents to the bowl. Mix well then transfer contents to a large non-stick baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake covered for 1hr 15 minutes.
TOAST PECANS: Lightly toast pecans in a medium non-stick pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently. Or using an Instant Pot, using the saute mode, toast the pecans for 5 minutes or so until fragrant. I actually prefer using the Instant Pot method to prevent from burning the pecans. Immediately transfer toasted pecans to a small mixing bowl.
Add the Carmel Date Paste to the pecans. Using a spoon, mix well. Set aside.
Once the butternut is finish baking, reduce the oven to 350F. Remove the butternut squash from the oven. Top with the glazed pecans. Do not recover with foil. Place the pan back into the oven and allow to bake for an additional 15 minutes. Check at 10 minutes to ensure the pecans are not burning.
Remove from the stove. Allow the dish to cool before indulging. The longer the dish cools the more flavorful and sweeter the taste. Enjoy!
Caramel Date Paste (makes 1 1/4 cup): 1/2lb of Medjool Dates, 1/2 cup Apple Juice, 1/8 cup Baked Sweet Potato (skin removed), 1/8 tsp Vanilla Bean Powder. Blend all ingredients until completely smooth. Keep in the fridge stored in a tightly sealed glass jar. Will keep for several weeks. Perfect to sweeten any recipe. Note: If you do not have baked sweet potatoes available just omit.