If the current state of seasonal produce has you down in the dumps, dreading another farmers market haul of little more than potatoes and onions, take a closer look at the hardier squash. You might have missed one bright spot of culinary inspiration on the shelf, tiny as they are at no more than 6 inches tall. Honeynut squash look like miniature butternuts, but boast a remarkably intense sweetness beyond compare. Darker, creamier, denser, and overall richer, they’re everything you know and love in conventional gourds, amplified and intensified into a pint-sized package.
All it takes is a touch of heat to yield a flavorful side; even the skin is edible, if you so desire! The very best approach is to anoint with oil and perhaps a savory marinade before sending seeded halves through a blazing hot oven.
Of course, I can never leave well enough alone, and can’t resist the opportunity to take the name more literally. Brushing homemade vegan honey over wafer thin slits, allowing the nectar to penetrate the flesh in all its dulcet golden glory, takes only a tiny bit more effort that pays off in spades. Scattering a handful of crisp sliced almonds on top brings in a world of textural contrast, although I’d be tempted to try a more resounding crunch with chopped pecans or walnuts next time.
If you thought there was nothing to get excited about for wintertime harvests, stock up on these small squash. Just one bite will chase away the hibernal gloom.
- 3 Small Honeynut Squash (1 Pound Each or 3 Pounds Total)
- 1/4 Cup Vegan Honey (page 224 of Vegan a la Mode or Store-Bought) or Maple Syrup
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, Crushed
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon Truffle Salt (or Plain Salt)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Sliced and Toasted Almonds
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and set out a baking sheet.
- Cut each squash in half and scoop out the inner pulp and seeds using a sturdy spoon. If you want to clean the seeds, they can be roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt as well for a delicious little snack! Otherwise, discard or compost.
- Carefully peel the tough outer skin before placing the halves, cut sides down, on your baking sheet. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Par-baking the squash will make it easier to make finer, thinner slices without straining your wrists, or testing your knife skills as rigorously.
- Meanwhile, in a small dish, mix together the vegan honey, garlic, oil, mustard, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir until smooth.
- Remove the squash from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, or until you can more easily handle them without scorching your fingers. Using a very sharp knife, slice very thin slits in each half, being careful not to cut all the way through. You might want to place wooden chopsticks on either side to help guide you if you're uncertain of you knife skills, which will prevent you from hitting the bottom of the cutting board.
- Return the sliced squash to the baking sheet and brush each half thoroughly with the marinade, making sure to coat them evenly. Bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the glaze has caramelized around the edges and the squash are meltingly tender.
- Top with toasted almonds just prior to serving, and enjoy hot.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 279Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 6g