The Daily Dirt

Cooking “Root to Leaf” for fall with Steven Satterfield

Root to LeafFall has arrived, and with it we feature a simple and delicious recipe from 2015 James Beard Foundation nominee Steven Satterfield‘s cookbook Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. This recipe features two crops that are both in season—butternut squash and apples. (Click here to learn more about Steven.)

Is there a reason why you put apples and butternut squash together? Well first of all they are both in season at the same time, and they both have a sweetness to them, but unique qualities that make them different.  A good tip for preparing this recipe is to isolate each main ingredient and roast them separately.  This gives you more control over the texture of both the apples and the squash.  If you cook them together, the apples turn to mush by the time the squash is tender.

What would go well with this dish? I love this dish with grilled pork tenderloin, but it also can be a fantastic side dish at the Thanksgiving table or the star of any friends gathering potluck.

Is there any variety of apple that works best in this recipe? Since the butternut squash has a mellow round flavor to it, I like to use a zippy flavored apple like a pink lady, granny smith or other higher acid apple.  However, most any apple will work well, including the types that are considered just for cooking.

squashRoasted Butternut Squash and Apples

  • 1 large butternut squash or 2 small
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon each roughly chopped fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 small apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Position two racks in the oven, one-third above the bottom and one-third below the top. Heat the oven to 375°F.

With a Y-shape peeler, remove the outer skin of the squash. With a long knife, slice off about 1⁄2 inch of the stem end and the base end. Place the squash base side down on a cutting board, so that it stands up on its own. Carefully insert the blade of the knife across the diameter of the squash and slowly rock the knife until it is fully inserted. With both hands, carefully push down through the squash until your blade reaches the cutting board and the squash is bisected. Remove the seeds and discard or save for another use.

With each half-squash cut side down, separate the wider, hollow base from the solid upper section. Cut the hollow pieces lengthwise radially into long, 1-inch- wide strips. Trim each strip into 1-inch cubes. Cut the solid upper pieces into 1-inch cubes also. Place all of the cubed squash in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion, thyme, sage, rosemary, and olive oil. Season liberally with salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Toss well to combine and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, peel the apples. Slice the apples vertically into 4 equal quarters. Place each quarter cut side down, with the seeds facing your knife. With the blade at a 45-degree angle, slice away the core and the seeds from each quarter. Slice each quarter into three pieces lengthwise, then cut the pieces in half crosswise.

Transfer the apples to a bowl, and toss with melted butter and season lightly with salt. Turn the apples out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast until the apples are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. When both the squash mixture and the apples have finished roasting, combine and taste for seasoning before serving.


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