Add a touch of exotic fragrance and indulgence to your holiday side dish with easy to prepare Vanilla Cardamom Roasted Acorn Squash.
Every morning I have the same routine, I get up and walk the pug then come back in to the apartment and sit down at my computer to check the weather (to see if I have sun that day) and my calendar for what’s on the docket. Then I proceed with the same reaction every time after looking how my calendar. How is it already the first, middle, last or whatever point of the month?
Every time. You’d think my brain would just be used to the fact that time seems to move in a faster pace than I currently need it to be moving. As such, the calendar is reading that the holidays are fast approaching us! I’ve already spotted Christmas decorations in the stores and you know once Halloween is over it’s a fast and furious race until the end of the year.
I say, let’s get a head start this year but not by shopping instead in the kitchen!
Holiday meals with my family generally consist of the same foods every year. As adventurous cooks we are every other day of the year, for some reason if it’s a holiday we stick with the old standards. There have been a few attempts at change, some that failed (a cauliflower souffle that hardly anyone touched) and others with more success (adding some roasted squash to the menu).
We never really ate any variety of squash growing up and it wasn’t until the last few years that I really developed a love for it, especially acorn squash. It’s sweet with a nutty flavor that lends itself to a number of flavor pairings.
My favorite though has got to be with a touch of vanilla to really make the sweetness of the squash shine. I bet most of you have your bottle of vanilla extra (the real stuff I hope) at home and only break it out when baking. Believe it or not vanilla is just as amazing with a savory dish as it is sweet. My most favorite to use at home is anything from Nielsen Massey. From their Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to their Vanilla Bean Paste, which I will put on anything I can possibly think of.
However it’s the holidays and we should treat ourselves to a little extra indulgence, which is why I broke out my vanilla beans for this dish. As much as I love the vanilla bean paste, I wanted to be able to mix those little specks of bean scraped from the inside of the pod with brown sugar, melted browned butter and aromatic cardamom. Plus a touch of salt and cayenne pepper to make sure the sweetness doesn’t take over.
Our flavor pack mixture gets brushed onto the squash and into the oven to be roasted. After just a few minutes your house will start to smell amazing and you’ll wonder why you don’t use those vanilla beans more often.
The finished product is golden brown and crispy on the outside with that brown sugar, vanilla and cardamom coating but perfectly soft on the inside. Little specks of vanilla decorate the roasted squash and scream I’m ready for the holiday table! Of course, I hope you don’t want until then and give yourself a little weeknight indulgence with this side dish.
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This post is sponsored on behalf of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. As always all opinions are my own and thanks for supporting brands that I work with.