Leave seasoning to the end for a better butternut

We tend to associate vinaigrettes with salad, but they actually are an easy — and speedy — way to add tons of flavor to all manner of dishes.

One of my favorites is roasted vegetables. Too often, we only season roasted veggies before they go into the oven. While this certainly can produce delicious results, it can be limiting. By adding the seasonings before the vegetables are roasted, you effectively rule out any delicate flavors that can't hold up to a sustained heat for a prolonged period.

And that's where a vinaigrette comes in for this easy roasted butternut squash recipe that's perfect for Thanksgiving. We start by oiling some cubed butternut squash, then roasting it until lightly browned outside and tender inside. Only once it's fully cooked do we season it. And for that we use a lightly warmed lemon vinaigrette spiked with toasted cumin and fennel seeds.

The result is intensely flavorful and incredibly balanced. And the best part is that it takes almost no extra time or effort than traditional roasting.




Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

4 pounds butternut squash

Olive oil

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Peel and seed the squash, then cut it into 1-inch chunks. Mound the squash on the baking sheet, then drizzle with several tablespoons of olive oil. Toss with your hands to coat evenly, then spread in an even layer. Roast for 15 minutes, then use a spatula to turn the pieces and roast for another 15 minutes, or until evenly browned.

During the final 5 minutes of roasting, in a small dry skillet over low heat, toast the fennel and cumin seeds, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

When the squash is done, transfer to a bowl. Drizzle the dressing over it and gently toss to coat. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories; 80 calories from fat (35 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 4 g protein; 180 mg sodium.


J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at and tweets at . Email him at

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