By request of our friend Bill, I’m starting early on Thanksgiving recipes this year. As I thought about side dishes, I surprised myself with a general feeling of disgust. Do I dislike Thanksgiving? No, I do love Thanksgiving. Any holiday with lots of food is a friend of mine for sure. The problem is, a few traditional side dishes do turn me off, particularly that sweet potato dish, the one covered in marshmallows. It’s sugary sweet, too busy competing with desserts, and not pulling it’s weight during the main course. To those that are big fans, hear me out. I do think there’s a place for a sweet dish, besides dessert, but let’s compliment the turkey and not mask it in a coat of soft wet sugar.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Cranberries

I decided that my alternative would be a nice colorful mixture of roasted butternut squash, pears, and dried cranberries. It’s mildly sweet, mildly tangy, with that starchy filling quality that brings on food coma. Food coma is what Thanksgiving is all about. Yet, I think this recipe is healthier and you can save more of your sugar quota for the pies and candy brittle.

This is a really easy, stress-free dish….

While I like to eat fresh pears when they’re crisp and not too ripe, this recipe is a great way to use up ripe pears that are starting to blemish. They are juicy and extra sweet, allowing the dish to rely on a more natural sweetness.

bartlett pears

Cutting the chunks up evenly is important for even cooking, but this is challenging when butternut squash and pears are odd shaped and sizes, rather than perfect squares. I wrote in the recipe to cut the chunks at roughly 1″ cubes. Because of the odd shape, especially after scooping out seeds, you will get some 3/4″ sides and some 1 1/4″ sides, but don’t worry.

fresh butternut sqash, pears, and dried cranberries

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Cranberries
~8-10 side servings

  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt
  • 4 cups butternut squash chunks (roughly 1″ cubes)
  • 3 cups pear (bartlett) chunks (roughly 1″ cubes)
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Instructions -

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, toss together butternut squash, pears, and dried cranberries. Pour butter over it and sprinkle with sugar/spice mix. Toss until well distributed.

before roasting Butternut Squash, Pears, and Cranberries

4. Spread into a 9×13 baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and toss or stir. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the squash and pears are for tender. Check seasoning (I added a few more pinches of salt) and serve hot.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pears, and Cranberries 5

Make-Ahead

This dish can easily be made ahead of time, cooled, and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. When you want to serve it, heat it up in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Bartlett Pears, and Dried Cranberries

posted by jessica at 03:35 PM Filed under American, Holidays, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.