Thursday, November 1, 2018

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries, Feta, and Honey

 Every year, I try my best to find new and different Thanksgiving side dish recipes. I mean, for the most part, just about everyone has a turkey, or at least some sort of big something as the star of the meal (ham, prime rib), but it's the SIDE DISHES that you can vary from year to year to add some excitement to your menu! For this one, I wanted something fresh, easy, and yes, I wanted it to be a little lighter. Of course I know it's a huge feast and this is not a day for dieting, but it seems to me that having a few lighter dishes would be a very welcome break from all the super heavy casseroles. Am I right? Yes, of course I LOVE a good rich casserole, but this is a marathon, not a sprint, get it?
 So lets talk about this dish. I've seen it on several websites, but I first found it on a website called Out of the Woods Fitness. So, since that's where I saw it first, that's who gets the credit! It's EXACTLY as delicious as it sounds and it hits all the marks. The honey and squash are sweet, the cranberries are tart, the feta is salty, and the parsley adds a burst of green freshness. It's so perfectly balanced! I swear, when I made it, I could not stop eating it. Some websites also add toasted pine nuts over the top, just to add a little crunch, and I'd be all for that too. But you do you!
 So if you're looking for a new way to make butternut squash, or if you're looking for a new and lighter and dare I say it HEALTHIER side dish for your Thanksgiving, this is definitely the one!

1 large butternut squash, (about 3 lbs) peeled + cubed
a hearty drizzle of olive oil
salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
2 cups fresh cranberries
2-3 tbs honey
1/4 cup finely crumbled feta
ground cinnamon, to taste
fresh parsley, to garnish, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
Lightly drizzle or spritz a baking sheet with olive oil.
Add cubed squash to the sheet along with another drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle with a light layer of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste.
Roast for 25 minutes on the center rack.
At the 25 minute mark, pull out the oven rack, and add your fresh cranberries to the roasting pan.
Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries have started to soften and burst a bit.
Remove from oven and add a sprinkle of cinnamon (approx 1/8-1/4 tsp or to taste) along with feta and honey.
Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.

To make this in advance, follow the recipe as far as roasting the squash and cranberries, then place them in a sealed container in the fridge until your dinner. Then just reheat (in oven or microwave) and then pick up where you left off and finish the recipe as directed. In other words, don't add the feta, honey, and parsley until you're ready to serve!
In the original, it was noted that the honey is drizzled after the roasting (instead of before) in order to retain some of its health benefits. I don't know if there's any truth to it, but it makes sense to me!

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