I was invited to a pumpkin-carving party recently, and wanted to bring some kind of snack to contribute. I usually bring desserts (last year I brought these pumpkin cheesecake bars) but everyone brings desserts to these things, so I decided to go in a savory direction this time.
Butternut squash seemed the perfect ingredient to focus on for a squash-theme party, so I started with that. I wanted to keep things handheld and relatively neat to eat, so I knew I’d be enclosing the filling in a pastry, and after that it was just a matter of adding flavors I thought would work. Best of all, the prep time was relatively low since the filling ingredients were roasted together on a sheet pan.
As for the outside, I revisited the hot water crust recipe I used to make Paul Hollywood’s pork pies, since I’d been struck at the time by its flakiness and great flavor. To cut down on leftover scraps I cut my pastry into squares, which were folded diagonally to make little turnover shapes– but I’m calling them pasties here because 1) they sound more savory than “turnovers,” which always evoke dessert to me, and 2) I’m kind of on a Harry Potter kick right now and these remind me of pumpkin pasties (which were probably intended to be sweet, but whatever).
Okay, so “Butternut Squash with Gouda” isn’t exactly the most exciting name for this dish, but I couldn’t think of anything better so there it is. Besides, while the name may be boring, the recipe is anything but– it takes a few simple ingredients and combines them into a rich, flavorful, autumn-centric (new word!) dish. You get tender chunks of butternut squash, mixed with sweet and savory caramelized onions, a hint of sage, a creamy strata of gouda cheese, and it’s all topped with a crunchy layer of toasted panko. It would make a fabulous side dish for this year’s Thanksgiving.
Now that it’s winter I’ve been seeing a lot of squash in the market– butternut, acorn, kabocha, and delicata, not to mention other kinds I’ve never tried before. But one thing that all of my go-to recipes have had in common is that they’re kind of heavy-tasting– chock-full of warming spices and comforting, rich flavors. That all changed when I saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen.
Her original recipe uses acorn squash and fresh chile, but having neither of those I improvised and am so glad that I did. Using delicata squash allows you to eat the skin of the squash along with the flesh, and Sriracha handily takes the place of fresh chile pepper. When served up in tacos with black beans, avocado, and feta cheese, this squash makes for a quick and easy weeknight meal that’s light, fresh-tasting, and greater than the sum of its parts.