Lighter than yams, easily done ahead and good hot or tepid, roasted sweet squash turns almost candy-like in the oven. To serve it as it’s done in the squash’s home territory, the Emilia-Romagna region, have a bottle of balsamic vinegar on the table so diners can season their helping to taste.
Cook to Cook: A trick to enrich inexpensive balsamic vinegar is to add a tablespoon of brown sugar for each cup and boil down the combination in a skillet until it is almost syrupy. This keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds butternut squash, or kabocha squash
- Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon artisan balsamic vinegar (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena or Reggio-Emilio)
- Or 3 to 4 tablespoons high-quality commercial balsamic vinegar, or the balsamic syrup above
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Cut the squash lengthwise in half. Seed and cut into 3- to 4-inch squares, with skin intact. Score the flesh with crosshatch cuts about 1/2 inch deep. Rub all over with olive oil.
2. Set the pieces, skin side down, on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with knife and lightly browned. Serve hot or at room temperature. Finish with balsamic vinegar at the table.