Maple-Pecan Hasselback Butternut Squash

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip! 

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip!You know, one of the best things about blogging and being part of the social media slipstream is you. Yes, you.

Every morning, as Andrew valiantly gets ready for work in the dark (he’s way too good for me, so he is), I rummage blindly under the bed for my phone. Because I switch it off before retiring to bed it takes a few seconds for the mystical whirrings and soft bleeps of this inanimate object to come to life. Pings and chirrups from distant lands and time zones. As always, there is plethora of overnight urgent messages from random companies. Most wish to part me from my money. Block. Delete. Sigh…

But more and more these days I am getting messages from actual people  (!) telling me that they’ve made one of my recipes. And, thrillingly for me, that they loved it. Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip! To a food writer it really doesn’t get any better than that: it feels better than Christmas, better than cookies from the oven, better even than the first proper snow of winter.

It is on these days that rather than languish under the magnetically warm and inviting duvet, I fairly spring from my bed, brush my teeth and head for the kitchen, determined to do more, and do it better. Of course I have work-work, too. Don’t we all. But I am doubly blessed that what I do “in real life” intersects with my fantasy-come-to-life world of creating recipes and sharing them.

If you have ever messaged me with even the vaguest hint of praise or support, then believe me it is a tonic to the soul. And I thank you. 

butternut squashI am feeling in a particularly thankful mood. Not only do I have the best blog readers EVER, but it is Thanksgiving Day in exactly one week. As an ex-pat American I am very grateful for any extra food-focused holidays.🙂

Thanksgiving is the biggie. Christmas is massive too. Obviously. But Thanksgiving Day, that non-denominational, gosh-we-are-still-a-nation day of celebration and family, is the sine qua non of American holidays. Where Christmas might be spent with just the nuclear family, tearing open presents and getting a bit sloshed on egg nog, Thanksgiving Day – well you can’t get away with that. It won’t do. Yes, a lot of it is now centered around college football (yawn), but it is the time to gather round a table – often a string of mismatched tables and chairs wedged around the room like a crazy human Screwball Scramble set  – and just be together. Dropping the turkey, burning the stuffing, and playing tag you’re it with the sprouts is all part of the day.

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip!And tradition. That’s an integral part of it too. Thanksgiving is built on family traditions.

In our family there is always sweet potato casserole. Always. In some form or other. My mother used to make a fantastic one. It’s a southern thing. But this year I am going out on a bit of a culinary limb with today’s recipe, Smoky Maple-Pecan Hasselback Butternut Squash. My family haven’t tasted it as I tested it out at work, but I think – I hope – it will go down well. And if not, then hey, I can package it up and gift it away at Christmas as an edible Slinky.🙂

At the end of the post I will give you links to my Thanksgiving-esque recipes, in case you are short a dish or two. These – as well as this current recipe – are also perfect for Christmas.

So, this Thanksgiving give thanks for your Aunty Jean’s cranberry sauce with the too-generous splash of sweet port, your Nan’s still slightly frozen green bean casserole (it’s really only the fried onions we like), and your own honed-to-perfection gravy. And I will be thankful for you. Have a good one. xx

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip!

Maple-Pecan Hasselback Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip! 

1 large butternut squash (I like Coquina variety)

3 tbsp warmed coconut oil, divided use

Salt and pepper

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Zest of one small orange or satsuma

30g (1/4 cup) finely chopped pecans

50ml (1/8 cup + 2 tsp) maple syrup (the dark kind/Grade B if possible)

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Sage leaves, for serving

Method:

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/400F.

1. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, then peel and deseed. Save the seeds for roasting if you wish (rub with a little oil and roast on a separate tray for about 12-15 minutes). Place cut side down in a snugly-fitting roasting tin or ceramic dish and brush with a little of the coconut oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 35 minutes.butternut squash

2. While the butternut squash is roasting, mix together the remaining ingredients, except the sage.

3. Remove the squash from the oven, let cool slightly, then use a sharp paring knife to carefully cut about three-quarters down into the squash, making cuts across the way, as shown. Try not to cut all the way through as you’ll lose the effect – but it will still taste awesome!

4. Now spoon the spice and nut mixture over the squash, using the spoon or a fork to slightly part the slices to better wedge in the flavourings. It’s kind of tricky, so don’t stress this.

5. Pop the squash back into the oven and roast for a further 20-30 minutes depending on how fast your oven is and how thick your squash is, basting with the sticky juices once or twice. The thinnest ends will be much softer than the thicker ends.

Serve warm with sage leaves tucked in.

Getting ahead: You can roast as per step one a day ahead, then bring to room temperature before drizzling over the maple pecan glaze and carrying on as instructed. Or, you can cook the whole dish four hours ahead, keep at room temperature and give it a quick blast on 200C for 10 minutes.

Soft food diet: blitz the pecans into dust before using. Cook the squash for up to an hour for maximum softness, covering to prevent burning if required.

Take the hassle out of hasselback with my easy way of making this cute Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Normally seen on white potatoes, hasselback is also the perfect way to spruce up sweet potatoes or butternut squash. By part-baking before slicing and slicking with the flavourings, you save your fingers and your sanity. Top tip!

Photographing with coconut oil in a Scottish garage has its issues... :-)

Photographing with coconut oil in a Scottish garage has its issues…🙂

Need Some More Holiday Recipes?

11 Last-Minute Vegetarian Thanksgiving Day Recipes – my mains and sides to make your day delicious and healthy. Oh, there’s one dessert too.🙂

Incredible Cauliflower Mash – luxurious and oh so good!

Port-Poached Pears Endive and Blue Cheese

And we can’t forget the gravy! Rich Spring Onion Gravy