Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach and Cranberries

This was a hit at our recent holiday party. While I meant it as a hot/warm side a number of our guests called it a salad and I’m OK with that. It was quite colorful as well; a really nice addition to the buffet table.

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, this recipe is based on one from the grocery chain Wegmans.

Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach and Cranberries
Servings: 8-10 as a side; 15-20 as part of a buffet
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs. butternut squash (this was 3 squashes for me)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cover a half sheet pan (or two rimmed cookie sheet pans) with aluminum foil.
  2. While the oven preheats prep the squash. Cut off the top and bottom. Cut each squash in half across the middle and then in half vertically so you have 4 pieces. Peel the skin with a serrated peeler. Scoop out the seeds and strands from the center. Finally cut the into 1/2″ cubes.
  3. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on squash onto the baking pan(s) into a single layer. Ideally you want a bit of space between your squash so that it has a bit of free space. Free space should promote browning. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
  4. While the squash cooks rinse and dry the spinach. Place the spinach and dried cranberries in a heat-safe bowl large enough to also hold the squash.
  5. When the squash is ready add it to the bowl with the squash and cranberries. Toss thoroughly and serve.

Notes:
Instead of peeling, cleaning and chopping the squash yourself you can do as the original recipe suggests and purchase already prepped squash. My experience is that the squash is sometimes a bit dried out and will certainly need to be cut into uniform pieces. If you want to save a bit of time, in exchange for a bit of money, already prepped squash is the way to go.

The original recipe called for chopped onion. I left it out of this recipe because one of our expected guests is allergic to onions and peppers. I’ll probably make it with onions at some point though because I think it would add an extra dimension to this dish. I’d go with 2 red onions, peeled, halved and sliced thinly into half moons.

This dish held up remarkably well. It was ready 45 minutes before our guests arrived. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside. When I was laying out the buffet I microwaved it for about a minute just to reheat it a bit and gave it an extra toss for good measure.

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