With a dash of nutmeg and just the right amount of sweetness, roasted butternut squash is a perfect fall side. Its rich fall color along with the taste of candied pecans and nutmeg make it an excellent choice for a Thanksgiving side dish.
The ingredients of Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Pecans are butternut squash, red onions, oil, brown sugar, nutmeg, and candied pecans (made from scratch while the squash is baking). You’ll want to use a silicone mat or non-stick cooking spray for baking.
Choosing Butternut Squash
Technically a fruit like all squash, butternut squash is rich in nutrients; it is full of carotenoids (including beta-carotene) as well as vitamins A, B, and E, and contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
When choosing a butternut squash, look for fruit that is uniform in color, without blemishes (cracks, divots, and discolorations) , and is heavy for its size. Avoid produce that is bruised or has soft spots.
Preparing Butternut Squash
Since you will be peeling the squash, you may choose not to wash it. I wash pretty much all of my non-leafy produce with soap and water. Prepare your squash by peeling it with a vegetable peeler as you would any other produce. If it is difficult to peel, try chopping an inch off of the top and microwaving for about three minutes to soften the skin. After peeling, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds and strings from the hollow in the body.
Making Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Pecans
Cut the neck of the butternut squash from the body to make slicing easier. Cut the squash into long slices, then strips, then turn it and cut into 1″ cubes. Set aside in a large bowl.
Chop the onions and add to the bowl with the chopped squash. Add the oil to the vegetables and toss well to coat.
Spread the chopped vegetables on a sheet pan with sides or a roasting pan. (The vegetables will release quite a lot of liquid during roasting, so be sure your pan will catch them.) Sprinkle the brown sugar over the vegetables.
Sprinkle with nutmeg to your preference. A little goes a long way, so I use ¼ teaspoons or less but you can adjust as preferred. I like the taste of freshly grated nutmeg without the hassle of dealing with whole nutmeg, so I use this Drogheria & Alimentari All Natural Spice Grinder Nutmeg (unfortunately, it appears to have been discontinued).
At this point I get messy—I find that mixing the vegetables with the brown sugar and nutmeg is easiest to do by hand. I get in there with my hands and gently mix it until the vegetables are evenly mixed with the toppings.
Bake at 450ºF for about 35-45 minutes, or until the squash starts to turn brown at the edges and there is no longer any liquid in the pan.
Making the Candied Pecans
While the squash is baking, make the candied pecans. Melt the butter in a small fry pan, add the pecans and toss to coat, then add the sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for about 10 minutes. When the pecans start to brown and the sugar starts to caramelize, remove from heat and cool.
When the squash is done, mix one-half to two-thirds of the pecans (depending on how much you want to reserve for topping based on the size of your serving dish) in with the squash, and place in a serving dish. Top with remaining pecans and serve immediately.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Candied Pecans
- ¼ cup oil
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 butternut squash
- 3 red onions
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg, or as desired
- Non-stick cooking spray
- ¾ cup pecan pieces
- 2-½ tsp. butter
- 1-½ tsp brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- Peel and chop butternut squash into 1” cubes.
- Chop onions into 1” pieces.
- Mix onions and squash with oil and spread in a prepared roasting pan with sides.
- Sprinkle brown sugar evenly across vegetables, then grind the nutmeg evenly over the vegetables.
- Mix gently with hands to distribute the brown sugar and nutmeg among the vegetables.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, gently stirring a couple of times during baking.
- While squash is baking, prepare candied pecans as directed below.
- When squash is turning brown on the edges and there is no longer any liquid in the pan, remove the vegetables from the oven.
- Gently stir one-half to two-thirds (depending on how much you want to reserve for topping based on the size and shape of your serving dish) of the pecans into the squash, then place into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top of the squash and serve immediately.
- While vegetables are baking, prepare the pecans by melting the butter in a small fry pan.
- Add pecans and toss to coat, then add brown sugar.
- Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- When pecans are starting to brown and the sugar starts to caramelize, turn off the heat.
- The roasting vegetables will release quite a bit of liquid as they cook, so be sure that your roasting pan has sides.
- When stirring, be very gentle to prevent mashing the squash.