We all love butternut squash but generally grouse at wrestling with the oversized gourd, risking a knife injury and emergency room visit just in time for the holidays. The solution has arrived at the farmers market – a sweeter mini version that doesn’t need to be peeled or chopped and cooks in half the time – honeynut squash.

“The honeynut is an open-pollinated variety that was developed at Cornell University,” Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms tells L.A. Weekly. “They’re small and five times sweeter than butternut squash and their deep orange color means they have even more beta carotene. But being so sweet, they break down very fast. You can keep a butternut squash for three or four months, but honeynut only lasts about six weeks. There’s a sister to that squash called 898 which keeps a little longer and is still pretty sweet.”

For a Thanksgiving side dish, we’ve stuffed this sweet squash with an apple and onion compote. The season for the honeynut is short. If you can’t find them, there are plenty of mini butternuts available at the farmers market that can be substituted. If you really want to gild the lily, top them off with edible flowers from Schaner Family Farms. 

Thanksgiving side dish

Honeynut squash (Michele Stueven)

Roasted Honeynut Squash With Apple Onion Compote

3 mini honeynut squash, sliced in half lengthwise with seeds removed

1 large apple, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 T. chopped fresh sage

1 T. butter

1 t. salt (or to taste)

½ t. pepper

¼ c. olive oil

1 c. pomegranate seeds for garnish

½ c. raw pumpkin seeds

½ c.  maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub butternut squash generously with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Roast in the oven open side up for 40 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.  Meanwhile, saute apple, onion, sage, salt and pepper over low heat in butter until soft. Remove squash from the oven and stuff with apple/onion mixture. At this point, you can either refrigerate and heat up later, just before dinner or return to the oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds and drizzle with maple syrup. Makes 6 side servings.

Thanksgiving side dish

Baby butternut at Schaner Family Farms (Michele Stueven)


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