There was a bit of hesitation before I decided to post this recipe. Perhaps because it was so far from what I originally intended to post. I thought in its place I’d talk about walnuts. Having just returned from a trip learning about the process of harvesting they happen to be fresh on my mind. In my plans there was pumpkin yogurt alongside butter-toasted walnuts and then a drizzle of olive oil over the whole lot. There’s still time for that too.
The hesitation could also come from the simplicity of this recipe; it’s really no more than sliced squash roasted with a whisper of sugar then sprinkled with butter browned until nutty and dark. But then there are cocoa nibs – which I realize may not be in everyone’s pantry. So then I worry that this quickly becomes a “fussy” recipe; one that requires a trip to the store and possibly a few mumbled curse words when you get excited to start cooking and then realize you don’t have all its parts. I’d hate for a recipe to be a bother.
But I’m here with squash and cocoa nibs because when I took a bite it gave me a pause and a few flutters of delight which then ignites the instinct to share it with someone else.
If I’m completely honest, hesitation and I have become perhaps too good of friends lately. There is often a pause, just long enough for the action to stop and the voices of doubt to creep in but in this case those voices just seemed crazy, even to me. Because really, who wouldn’t mind another recipe for squash particularly when chocolate (or its roasted bean) is involved?
To remove any sort of the fussiness let’s go ahead and say that although nibs do really play a staring role here perhaps toasted, ummmm WALNUTS might do nicely in their place?! Or pecans. You know what, maybe even peanuts with cilantro scattered on top?! I think you get the idea.
I’m partial to Delicata squash because I love that it doesn’t require peeling. In fact once out of the oven that skin is crisp enough to be pleasant against the softness of the flesh and tender enough to be delicious. But really any squash will do.
It is just the sort of recipe that is simple enough to sit alongside Wednesday’s roast chicken but worthy of snuggling up right next to your holiday bird. Leftovers turn a humble bed of peppery greens into a not-so-humble salad.
Delicata Squash with Brown Butter & Cocoa Nibs
Serves 4 to 6 side servings
The recipe comes from the newly released book, Theo Chocolate which includes all sorts of intriguing sweet and savory recipes that highlight chocolate. The Nibby Crackers are also a favorite. So the lesson of the day is: cocoa nibs are indeed a pantry staple.
1 winter squash (about 2 pounds), halved and seeded*
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt*
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 generous tablespoon (about 1/4 ounces) roasted cocoa nibs
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the Delicata into 1/2-inch half moons.
Add the squash to a sheet tray and drizzle on the olive oil, kosher salt, and brown sugar. Toss well to coat.
Roast until the squash is tender and the edges are nicely browned, about 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook until the foam subsides, you start to see brown specks at the bottom of the pan, and the butter smells nutty. Add the cocoa nibs and cook for 10 seconds just to warm them through, then spoon the mixture over the squash and serve immediately.
*I used two small Delicata squash and actually a bit less kosher salt then listed but added a crunchy flake salt at the end.