Here in California, where the seasons are decidedly subtle, I mark fall’s arrival not so much by the weather (which may or may not turn cool), but by the arrival of winter squash. My perennial favorite is butternut squash. It can form the hearty backbone of a vegetarian feast, or provide the perfect accompaniment to any roasted or braised meat.
The easy way to prepare butternut squash is to simply slice it in half with a large, sharp knife, scoop out the seeds and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Toss it in a preheated 400 degree oven for about an hour and finish with a little sprinkle of salt.
If you can invest a little more prep time, slice the butternut into disks or chunks and roast it for 30 minutes in a 475 degree oven along with some spanish onions, purple onions, red and yellow bell peppers, and tomatoes. It’s absolute decadence. The flavors caramelize, and leaving the vegetables in their skins while they cook adds a depth of flavor that can’t be gotten any other way. I learned this way of cooking butternut squash from Clare Ferguson’s Simply Good Food. She calls it “Spanish Roasted Vegetable Salad” and I share her recipe here: