It’s springtime in the Middle East. Afternoons are warm, but chilly evenings still make oven-roasted vegetables an enjoyable option for dinner. Butternut, and other hard-skinned squashes, are in season, and will be for at least another month. Here’s April’s seasonal produce, all detailed out for you. I picked up a medium-sized butternut squash to make this easy recipe, in which the cubed squash is caramelized in the oven together with red onions and Parmesan cheese. Aged Kashkeval cheese is also very good.
This makes a lovely vegetarian main dish; I like to serve it with rice and a good mixed salad for family dinners. Here’s a delicious and quickly made rice-and-vermicelli recipe. You can easily make this recipe vegan by omitting the cheese and adding 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar to the olive oil indicated in the recipe.
Peeling and chopping the squash is the biggest part of the preparation. If you think you’ll be pressed for time in the evening, you can get the knife work out of the way earlier and stash the prepared cubes in the refrigerator, covered tightly. While you’re at it, peel and chop the red onion too. Refrigerate the onion with the butternut cubes. The next steps will take only 10 minutes, and then you can just slide the whole thing into the oven and forget about it for the next half hour or so, while you put the rest of dinner together.
And by the way, some prefer to eat butternut squash with the peel on. It’s perfectly edible, with a crisp/tender texture.
Roasted Parmesan Butternut Squash
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ cubes
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or other aged cheese
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).
Put the flour and dry seasonings (but not the cheese) in a large bowl.
Dredge the vegetables in the flour/seasoning mixture. Place the pieces on a parchment- lined baking sheet, leaving a little space in between the pieces.
Sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables.
Crush the garlic. Scrape it into a bowl with the oil (and the Balsamic vinegar, if doing this vegan). Drizzle the garlicky oil over the vegetables.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. The butternut squash should be soft and caramelizing slightly.