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Cooking on deadline: roasted squash with salsa verde

 

Katie Workman/The Associated Press

 

 

Most of the time, I end up putting my energy into the main course. You, too, right? The side dishes then have a tiered level of time and effort afforded to each of them, often ending with something exciting like "rice." 

 

But sometimes it just makes sense to flip that paradigm on its head, keep the main dish undemanding and uncomplicated, and show the side dishes some love. 

 

Pick an entree that can be tossed into the oven and then -- other than the setting of a timer and maybe an occasional basting -- be ignored. A roast chicken, a filet, a leg of lamb. Then get started on this sexy side dish. 

 

In a way, this recipe is about lavishing attention on the details. Making roasted squash is just a matter of cubing squash (which can easily be bought peeled and seeded), tossing it with some oil and salt, and letting it do its thing in the oven. 

 

Once the oven door is closed, you'll spend a few minutes pureeing several green and flavorful ingredients in a blender or food processor for a verdant salsa verde, washing the bowl, then pureeing some ricotta and feta for a creamy finish. By the time the vegetables (and the roast) are ready to come out of the oven, you've got your squash accessories ready to go. 

 

Add salt with a light hand here as several of the ingredients -- feta, capers and anchovies -- have a lot of salt already. You can always give the finished dish an extra sprinkle of salt if you think it's needed. 

 

You can let the squash cool to room temperature, or serve it warm. The salsa verde will keep in the fridge for up to three days. The ricotta and feta mixture will keep for up to five days. 

 

So is this dish a little fussy? Yes. But, man, is it worth it. 

 

 

 

ROASTED SQUASH WITH SALSA VERDE AND WHIPPED FETA AND RICOTTA 

 

Servings: 8 

 

Start to finish: 45 minutes 

 

 

 

Roasted squash: 

 

2 butternut squash (about 3 pounds total), peeled and cubed 

 

3 tablespoons olive oil 

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

 

 

 

Scallion salsa verde: 

 

1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves 

 

1 cup sliced scallions 

 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 

 

2 anchovies, rinsed 

 

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed 

 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

 

Zest and juice of 1 lemon 

 

Pinch red pepper flakes 

 

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

 

 

 

Whippped ricotta and feta: 

 

1 cup fresh whole milk ricotta 

 

1/2 cup crumbled feta 

 

Freshly ground pepper to taste 

 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste 

 

Kosher salt to taste, if needed 

 

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, spread the squash on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss until squash is evenly coated. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until squash is nicely browned in spots and tender inside. 

     

  • Meanwhile, make the scallion salsa verde. Place parsley, scallions, thyme, anchovies, capers, 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice and zest and red pepper flakes into bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times, then let motor run until it is pureed. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired (be generous with pepper, but perhaps lighter on salt thanks to the anchovies and capers). Transfer to a small serving bowl. 

     

  • Then, make the whipped ricotta and feta. Place ricotta and feta into the (cleaned!) bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add a nice amount of pepper. With the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup olive oil until mixture is fluffy and smooth. Taste and see if mixture needs salt. Transfer to a small bowl. 

     

  • Transfer squash to a serving platter. Spoon the whipped ricotta and feta in little mounds over the squash. Drizzle salsa verde over squash. Remember to serve the roast. 

     

    Nutrition information per serving: 358 calories; 249 calories from fat; 28 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 247 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 7 g protein.

     

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