Squash is synonymous with fall and Thanksgiving. Since our family eats more than it’s fair share of delicata squash during the harvest season, at Thanksgiving we like to pick something different (for us!) and even more colorful–the butternut squash. Butternut is a little trickier to slice, but the firm texture and deep, sweet flavor make these half-moon sections a beautiful side dish for a Thanksgiving meal.
This year we decided to pair our squash with some Mama Lil’s hot Hungarian peppers that are pickled and packed in an amazing hot oil. These jars of peppers are a northwest staple and are made in Portland, Oregon. I’ve also seen them at the Beecher’s Cheese store in the Flatiron District of New York City (although not the super hot ones). Other suppliers can be found on the company website, www.MamaLils.com. You don’t need many peppers to make a dish crazy good, whether they’re put on vegetables, eggs, or spooned over a softened cheese for extra zing. Once opened, they can be stored in the refrigerator for months. A jar of Mama Lil’s is a worthy investment!
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash outside of squash thoroughly and dry. Try to puncture only the skin with the tip of your knife before you slice the length of the squash. That way you stabilize the irregularly-shaped squash on your cutting board before you apply the pressure needed to slice it completely thorough. Remove the seeds and slice into ¾ inch horizontal sections. Place the squash sections on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. Check for doneness, and turn if browning is desired on both sides. Bake for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven.
While the butternut squash is cooking, peel and slice shallots thinly and cook to near-crispy in a teaspoon or two (use sparingly) of olive oil. I used a cast iron skillet.
Arrange the squash on your serving dish and evenly distribute bits of the Mama Lil’s peppers and a few drops of oil top. Then delicately distribute the shallots using a fork (or two, as you would salad tongs) so the shallots don’t clump together. Finish with salt flakes.