When In Doubt, Roast Them: The Winter Squash Edition


This past growing year was a good one for butternut squashes and pumpkins. The yield was ample enough to make it possible–yea, necessary–to eat one a week for four months. Some of the squashes were big enough to suffice for two meals for two to three people, or more depending on how I prepared them.

Merely steaming then mashing them, adding butter and maybe a bit of brown sugar, salt and pepper, produces the most servings, but when the goal is using up the squash, then I find that roasting cuts them down to size and enriches their flavor. The good news is that pumpkins, plain old pie pumpkins, work just as well in this preparation as do the classic winter squashes: butternut, buttercup, kabocha, kuri, and acorn.

All I did was peel the pumpkin as I would a butternut, scoop out the seeds, cut it into bite-sized dice, toss those in a bowl with olive oil dribbled all over them, and then roast them at 400 degrees for about a half hour, flipping them around once.

If you are an internet recipe explorer, you’ll find all kinds of roasted squash ideas, most of the variety coming from various garnishes. One place suggested sesame seeds, another suggested sprinkling on crumbled feta cheese; another recommended a dusting of red pepper flakes. Melissa Clark at the New York Times, roasted squash slices and served it atop boiled farro, that quickly cooking, fairly recently available, wheat berry. The goal there was a salad-like dish with vinaigrette. If I did it, I would just toss the hot roasted squash or pumpkin in some warm boiled farro, barley, or rice, or even orzo, and make a side dish out of it.

I borrowed the sesame seed and crumbled feta ideas for my roasted pumpkin. Instead of a vinaigrette dressing, I dribbled a little balsamic vinegar over the finished pumpkin, then a little dribble of maple syrup. I felt quite smug about my charmingly wholesome dish. It tasted good, too.

Looking for…Oatmeal Pie. Quite some time ago, one of you kind readers sent me a recipe for Oatmeal Pie which, until I cleared my desk three days ago, I had ready to try out. Alas, it is gone. I am hopeful you will remember who you are, and will send it along to me again. Or, perhaps you don’t remember doing that but have a good recipe for Oatmeal Pie and would be willing to share?

Roasted Pumpkin with Feta Cheese
Serves: 2-3
  • 4 cups of peeled, diced pumpkin or winter squash
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame (or pumpkin or sunflower) seeds toasted lightly, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or coat it with olive oil.
  3. Put the diced squash or pumpkin into a bowl, dribble a little olive oil and toss it to coat the squash.
  4. Spread diced and oiled squash in a single layer in the pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  5. Put the roasted squash back into the bowl, sprinkle over it a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon or so of maple syrup, salt and pepper. Toss.
  6. Taste and add more vinegar or syrup if desired.
  7. Add the optional seeds as garnish.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.