CARAMELIZED WINTER SQUASH WITH TOASTED COCONUT GREMOLATA
I ate a lot of squash with brown sugar and butter while growing up. This recipe is my more practical “I can’t have ice cream for every meal” compromise, using honey instead of brown sugar and coconut oil instead of butter. I would probably eat this as dinner on its own, but I happen to know it’s also great as a side with things like roasted chicken or pork chops.
While tender, caramelized, salty-sweet squash is magnificent all on its own, it should be mentioned that the real reason for making this dish is for the toasted coconut gremolata: chips of nutty, unsweetened coconut tossed with herbs, lots of lemon zest, and a bit of Aleppo pepper. It’s wildly addictive, and there is no reason it couldn’t appear over roasted carrots, sprinkled onto a curry or stew, or even over salads as a stand-in for croutons. DO AHEAD:
Everything but the coconut can be made 1 day ahead; when ready to serve, toast the coconut and add it to the chive mixture (toasted coconut will start to soften once mixed with the herbs and refrigerated). SQUASH
2 medium winter squash, such as delicata or acorn (1½ to 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, or olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
TOASTED COCONUT GREMOLATA
¾ cup unsweetened coconut chips
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
½ cup fresh cilantro, tender leaves and stems, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt ROAST THE SQUASH:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Leaving the skin on, slice the squash into ½-inch-thick rings. (I roast my squash with the seeds still inside, because they get all crispy and I love the texture they bring to the table, but you can remove them if you like. Best way to do that is cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice into rings.)
Toss the squash with the coconut oil and honey on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping the squash once, until it is completely tender, browned, and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
MAKE THE GREMOLATA:
While the squash is roasting, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the coconut. Shake the skillet occasionally until the coconut is starting to brown at the edges and smells all toasty and amazing, 3 to 4 minutes.
Place it in a medium bowl to cool completely.
Once the coconut has cooled, add the chives, cilantro, lemon zest, and Aleppo pepper, and season with salt. Using your fingers, mix this together until the oils in the lemon zest have released and everything is evenly distributed (especially the lemon zest, which can stubbornly clump up).
Sprinkle the coconut gremolata over the roasted squash and serve.
Copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.