Poultry may be the big star this month, but vegetables make my culinary firmament sparkle. Before Midwest farmers markets bow out for the winter, they bring out squashes of all shapes and sizes—in colors that match the autumn leaves. This easy bake makes the most of their sweet tender flesh and whimsical shapes. To make it, you’ll need a variety of small squashes. I used small acorn, baby butternut, honeynut, uchiki kuri, and delicata. Cut in half, culled of seeds and pulp, and nestled in a roasting pan with sage, rosemary, thyme and spiced brown sugar butter, they bake up beautifully.
FOR SPICED BROWN SUGAR BUTTER
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
• 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp onion powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
FOR ROAST BABY SQUASH MEDLEY
• 6 small squashes (I used a medley of acorn, baby butternut, honeynut, uchiki kuri, and delicata)
• Four small sprigs rosemary
• Four small sprigs thyme
• Four small sprigs sage
• 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup water
• Garnish with 1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans OR pepitas
MAKE SPICED BROWN SUGAR BUTTER
Melt butter. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk to make a smooth caramel. Set aside.
MAKE ROAST BABY SQUASH MEDLEY
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash squash well. Using a sharp knife, cut each squash in half lengthwise. Using a serrated edged spoon, or apple-coring tool, remove seeds and filaments from each squash cavity and discard. Pat squash dry. Trim a very thin slice from the bottom of each halved squash, allowing them to rest, hollow side up, without bobbling. Arrange squash in a roasting pan. Pour cup of water into the pan, being careful not to splash the squash. Fill the cavity of each squash with about 1 Tbsp of the spiced brown sugar butter. Sprinkle squash with pepper and salt. Scatter sage, thyme and rosemary sprigs over all. Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil. Roast squash for 50 minutes. Remove foil. Roast an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until squash are fork tender. Brush edges of each squash with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped toasted pecans or pepitas. Serve hot.