M. Andrew Gordon

Maple-glazed Buttercup and Beets with Pecans and Goat Cheese

In Appetizers, Main Dish, Side Dishes on October 31, 2009 at 7:21 am

Here are two new recipes, but to be fair, I’m looking at them as more suggestions on what one might do with the raw ingredients.  Yet again, I found myself working with some last remaining ingredients that needed to be used up and two very seasonal vegetables: beets and squash, in this case the beloved buttercup.  I promise that this is only a seasonal aberration and that as the available produce shifts, you’ll see more varied dishes here.  But hell, this is autumn and what is more autumn than root vegetables and squashes (besides apples and cranberries, but you’ll see plenty of them I’m sure)?  And root vegetables and squash may be the perfect vegetables, in my opinion, because of their flavors, that simultaneous juxtaposition of earthiness and sweetness that makes them both prime candidates for savory and sweet dishes.  And the other aspect that I enjoy is the inability to quickly cook these vegetables.  They demand some attention and patience, which makes the cook pause for a moment before committing to following a certain path toward the plate.  I love the fresh summer produce of tomatoes, peas, or green beans, which at the height of their ripeness are almost best eaten out of hand.  But it is the stubbornness of the root vegetables and squashes (gourds, lest there be any confusion about summer/winter squashes) that I find most satisfying.

Squash and Beets

The two sides accompanying a Pecan-Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Breast

Here is a roasted buttercup squash with a maple bourbon glaze and finished with a sprinkle of fresh mint.  In a funny way, it’s like a satisfying and filling mint julep but instead of being delivered in a frosty silver mug, it arrives folded around the caramelized edges of the squash.  Here is my point about this post’s recipes being suggestions:

  • I cooked the squash, tossed it in the dressing, and served it.  Which tasted fine.
  • But I think it would be even better to pour the dressing over the squash during the last few minutes of roasting.
  • And if you’re really lazy, you could roast the squash halves and glaze them the last few minutes of cooking too.
  • But that would only get the sweet glaze over a portion of the squash whereas I like the cut up option that allows for crispy, caramelized edges balanced by the soft, sweet squash inside each chunk.

And the other side dish tonight could easily be expanded and used as the basis of a light meal or a much more elaborate side dish.  Here, we have roasted beets cut into smaller chunks and dressed with a maple vinaigrette.  I can hear the critics now: more maple and no bacon in sight.  But it is October, almost November, and I am an unrepentant New Englander, so I just can’t help myself.  With some diced apple or roasted carrots this could really be impressive.  Play around with it because that is when cooking really gets fun.

Maple-Glazed Squash

  • ½ buttercup squash, chopped ½ inch pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon mint, cut into chiffonade
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Coat squash in oil, season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Spread in single layer on tray and cook for 45 minutes.  Stir several times, until squash is starting to brown.
  2. In bowl, mix syrup, bourbon, lime, salt, and pepper.  Add squash, toss to coat, and sprinkle mint over squash.  Or glaze pour over squash and roast for a few minutes more.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

  • 3 beets
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup beet greens, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped finely and toasted
  1. Rinse beets under water and pat dry.  Place each beet on a separate piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and coat, and wrap beet into a packet.  Roast for 45-50 minutes.  Let cool, peel skin off of beet, and chop.
  2. Whisk syrup, oil, vinegar, and greens together.  Stir in chopped beets and season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with goat cheese and pecans.
  1. When are you going to audition to be the next Food Network star?

  2. I’m afraid without some real training I’m dead in the water!

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