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Thick rounds of butternut squash pan seared and roasted are paired with a fresh, herby gremolata variant, then toasted hazelnuts or raw pine nuts are added to light the nutty flavor of the squash a little higher. Use this as a side instead of a starch, or as an entrée on a meatless Monday.
1 large/2 medium (around 3 pounds) butternut squash, prepped and cut into ½ inch thick rounds*- you want enough for 2 to 4 rounds per person depending on size of rounds
Olive oil as needed-use a soft, buttery type such as Arbosana, or oil and butter, but avoid really peppery types such as Tuscan types
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Gremolata v.3 (See recipe), with enough oil to make it slightly runny/sauce-like
½ cup scant toasted peeled hazelnuts, chopped, or heaping quarter cup raw pine nuts, barely chopped, or to taste
Heat oven to 400°F. Foil and lightly oil a sheet pan large enough to hold all the rounds without crowding. Put squash rounds into a large bowl and drizzle with oil, and use your hands to ensure the squash is oiled all over. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat your largest flat bottomed pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, film with oil. When oil is hot (shivering or runny) but not smoking, add enough squash rounds to fill the pan without touching. There should be about ¼ inch between them. Cook until the bottoms are golden, and getting crisped a bit. When the bottoms are a golden and browned along edges, turn over and do the same to the other side. When uniformly colored of both sides, transfer the rounds to the sheet pan, leaving a little space between each one. Continue until all the rounds are browned and on the sheet pan. Place in the middle or upper third of the oven.
Cook squash for 20-25 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. If the squash is starting to darken a lot, lower the heat to 375°. Cook until a thin bladed knife or cake tester will slip into the squash without effort, but the rounds will not deform when a spatula is used to remove them from the sheet pan. Also, check your probe to see that the squash is hot through.
While the squash cooks, make the gremolata if you’ve not done so. Be sure to use enough oil to make the gremolata saucy. Mix with the nuts of your choice, reserving a few as final garnish.
When squash are ready, transfer to a platter or plates, then spoon over the gremolata, sprinkle with a few grains of large crystal salt and the remaining nuts. Serve hot.
Chef’s Notes: *To peel butternut squash: Do not bother with a peeler, just cut off the globular bottom of the squash, the top of the cylinder and base of the globe. Stand the cylinder on the cut base and use a large chef’s knife to cut the skin away from the squash by cutting down the side of the squash, turning the squash after each stroke. For the base, do the same, just follow the curve. Cut away the ends and scoop out the seeds, then cut the globe into ½ inch thick rings.
Serves: 4 +
Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen
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