This fragrant puree makes a delicious departure from the usual sweet potato and pumpkin side dishes. Roasting concentrates the flavor of winter squashes like butternut or kabocha and renders their flesh creamy when pureed. The squash-and-roasted-garlic puree is delicious as is, or flavored with exotic spice mixtures such as garam masala or the Tunisian Spice Mix, below.
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups
• 2 ½ pounds winter squash, such as kabocha or butternut
• ½ teaspoon olive oil
• 1 head garlic
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or 2 tablespoons heavy cream or to taste
• ¾ teaspoon salt
Tunisian Spice Mix (optional)
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin seed
• ¼ teaspoon ground caraway seed
• pinch cayenne
• 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350'. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush lightly with olive oil and place cut-side-down on a heavy baking sheet. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water onto the pan. Pull the loose papery skin off the garlic, keeping the head intact, and wrap it in a sheet of foil. Place the baking sheet and the foil packet in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the squash is puree tender and the garlic gives when the package is pressed. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
With a spoon, scoop the flesh out of the squash into the bowl of a food processor. Separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the soft pulp into the work bowl. Process the mixture to a fine puree, then add the butter or cream and salt to taste.
Make the Tunisian Spice Mix, if desired. Combine the spices in a small bowl. Add half the spice mix to the puree, then taste, adding more spice if desired and fresh lemon juice to lift the flavors. Adjust the seasoning.