Excerpted from Myra Goodman’s The Earthbound Cook.
Roasting is a terrific technique for intensifying the flavor of vegetables, creating crisp, golden brown exteriors and moist, meltingly tender insides. Here I’ve combined some favorite ingredients—vitamin-rich butternut squash, sweet fennel, tart apples, and dried cranberries—in a rustic dish that epitomizes autumn. After a quick toss in maple syrup–laced olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, the mixture is roasted in a hot oven to coax out the sweetness and flavor of the vegetables. For best results, cut the vegetables in uniform-size pieces to ensure even cooking. Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, cipollini onions, shallots, and yams would also work well in this dish. Pancetta (Italian bacon) adds a rich, smoky-salty flavor that complements the vegetables, but this ingredient is optional and can be eliminated if you prefer a vegetarian or vegan dish.
Roasted Butternut, Fennel, and CranberriesPrint Recipe
- 3½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice (about 6 cups)
- 3 large fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups), fronds reserved
- 3 crisp apples such as Fuji or Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, preferably organic
- ½ cup (4 ounces) finely minced pancetta (optional)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped reserved fennel fronds or fennel pollen
- Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the squash, fennel, apples, cranberries, and pancetta, if using, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Place the olive oil and maple syrup in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.
Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the thyme and fennel fronds, and season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Spread the mixture out. Do not crowd the vegetables as this will cause them to steam rather than brown—use two pans or cook in batches if necessary.
Roast the vegetables until they are lightly caramelized and tender, 30 to 45 minutes. As they are roasting, shake the baking sheet or stir the vegetables occasionally so they develop a crisp crust on each side.
Transfer the vegetables to a warmed platter and serve immediately.