Coffee squash? Squash coffee? No matter how you mash it, the combo sounds a little weird. Stick with me on this one, friends, we’ve got places to go and butternut squash to eat this winter.
Here’s the deal: I love this recipe because it’s 1. Easy to make. 2. An unexpected duo of flavors that party like nobody’s business in your mouth. And 3. Ideal to bring as a side dish for a wintry hangout with your pals. It's super elegant, super delicious and super healthy. Coffee squash is pretty much the trifecta of epicurean, mid-February perfection.
Also, feel free to make fun of my attempt at squash art with the photos that follow.
INGREDIENTS FOR COFFEE SQUASH
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1/2 c. freshly brewed coffee
- 1/4 c. maple syrup
- 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (I used serrano pepper honey white balsamic but feel free to use whatever suits your balsamic predilections if you don't have that weirdly specific kind of vinegar)
- 2 dollops Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- Optional: Reduced balsamic vinegar glaze (Trader Joe’s makes a pre-made balsamic reduction, which makes drizzling the stuff quite easy, but you can also easily make your own by heating balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan)
- Also optional: Red chili flakes
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COFFEE SQUASH
Cut and peel the squash, removing the seeds and that stringy gunk inside. (Also, while you are cutting and de-gunking, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, please.)
For me, the easiest way to cut it is to with one cut across the middle, separating the bottom hump (technical term) from the elongated neck of the squash. Next, peel the top, long half and cut the bottom hump in half, lengthwise. This should make it easier to scoop out the squash's squishy insides, although peeling around those curves can get kind of tricky. You’ve got this; I believe in you.
Doesn’t this look like modern art? Maybe something to hang in a community museum for a two-day, weekend exhibit that ends early Sunday morning?
After your squash is all buttery smooth, cut the squash into tiny squares, about half an inch in length. You want the pieces to be as evenly cut and uniform as possible. Pieces that are chopped evenly will also cook evenly in the oven. If you’ve got all different sized pieces, some might burn while others are only half-baked, which is also a pretty good life philosophy if you extrapolate.
Once the squash is cut, place it in a mixing bowl. Now here’s where things get fun. Pour your coffee over the squash. I used whatever coffee I had left from the morning but if you're a real coffee person, use something fancy, I guess.
Regretfully, I spilled a little coffee as we were pouring but not regretfully, the spill looked artsy and modern. Here it is for reference …
Anyway, after the coffee is poured, add the vinegar to the squash. Be sure your squash soaks for a few minutes in the coffee and vinegar then transfer the squash to a sheet pan. It’s OK if there’s some extra liquid at the bottom of the bowl after the squash departs its silvery confines; we’ll use that liquid later.
Next, drizzle maple syrup over the squash, along with the rest of the coffee-vinegar liquid from the bowl. (If there’s a ton left, just use some of it.) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and place the sheet pan in the oven. Let the squash cook for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. When the squash is finished, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with half of your chopped rosemary. (This is when you’d also add those optional red chili flakes for a kick of slow heat.)
Finally, top with the dollops of Greek yogurt, sprinkle the remainder of your chopped rosemary and if you so choose, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar glaze , which will make it look pretty. Final step? ENJOY!