This Squash Apple Cranberry Bake dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg and baked in brown butter is the perfect holiday side dish. Tart cranberries compliment sweet squash and apples perfectly.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m sure you can figure out why, the food of course! I know the Roasted Turkey is supposed to be the star of the show, but how about those sides? The Green Bean Casserole, the Cranberry Sauce, the Sweet Potatoes… I’m getting hungry.
Squash Apple Cranberry Bake is a dish that was inspired by my sister. She brought this one year and now no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without it.
We’re using buttercup squash in this dish because of its sweet flavor and creamy texture.
What is Buttercup Squash
Buttercup squash is a variety of winter squash that starts early fall and lasts through winter. It looks like a small pumpkin with green skin and orange flesh.
The taste and texture is similar to butternut squash, but they look completely different on the outside. Buttercup squash is a little sweeter. If you wanted to substitute butternut squash in this recipe, it works well.
How to make squash, apple and cranberry bake
There are only a few steps to making the Squash Apple Cranberry Bake come together.
- Cutting the squash and apples
- Making the brown butter
- Assembling the ingredients and baking
- Toast the pine nuts and garnish
How to cut and peel buttercup squash
There are several ways to prepare buttercup squash, but today’s recipe calls for cutting it into cubes. We’ll need to both cut it and peel it.
Here’s what I found to be the least complicated.
- Cut it in half stem to root. Cut it a little off-center, not right through the stem.
- Once you get your big kitchen knife firmly in there, just pick it up (squash, knife and all) and give it a good whack, then another. Maybe two or three and it will be cut through.
- Scoop out the seeds, then turn it flesh side down and cut it in slices.
- Then cut the flesh away from the skin, as if you are taking the rind off of a watermelon.
- Then cut it into bite-size pieces.
Tips for working with squash
- Put the squash in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin.
- Use an ice cream scoop with a flat edge (like the one shown) to scoop out the seeds. Life-changing!
How to make brown butter
Brown butter is the secret ingredient that takes this dish over the top. It has a lovely nutty flavor.
- Melt one stick of butter on medium heat in a small saucepan. Make sure your pan isn’t a really dark one so you can see the color of the butter.
- It will foam up, let it continue to cook, stirring occasionally until you have a nice golden brown color, about 3 minutes.
- You’ll get some solid bits on the bottom of the pan. To get rid of those, run it through some cheesecloth, or a fine mesh sieve. If you don’t have either of those a coffee filter will do.
Assemble the ingredients
- Combine the cut squash, apples, and cranberries in a large bowl.
- Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and brown butter and stir to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 dish and bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Toast The Pine nuts
You can do toast the pine nuts either in a small pan over the stove, or in the oven. They’ll take about 5-10 minutes.
On the stovetop: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, toss occasionally, until they start to deepen to a nice golden color and release a nutty aroma.
In the oven: Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet, place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, give them a toss, and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes. They will deepen to a nice golden color and release their nutty aroma.
Keep in mind, ovens vary, so the times may vary as well. To keep things low maintenance, after the squash is finished, remove it from the oven, and put the pine nuts in. Let them toast, garnish, and serve.
Tell me! What are your favorite Thanksgiving Dishes? What makes it to your table year after year?
If you try this recipe, please let me know how much you enjoy it by rating it. Happy Thanksgiving!
More Thanksgiving Show Stoppers
- Pumpkin Soup
- Apple Crisp
- Chocolate Mousse with Pumpkin whipped Cream
- Turkey Cranberry Pizza (perfect for leftovers!)
Squash Apple Cranberry Bake
- 2 medium buttercup squash peeled and diced
- 3 apples peeled and diced
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 8 tbsp butter
- 2 Tbs pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted (slivered almonds can be substituted)
- Toast pine nuts, place in a small fry pan over medium heat, tossing every couple of minutes. Alternatively, place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.
- Brown the butter: Place 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Allow the butter to foam and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. After 5-7 minutes, the butter should be a nice golden brown color. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove solid bits at the bottom of the pan.
- Combine squash, apples and cranberries in a large bowl.
- Pour browned butter, maple syrup and spices over top and toss to coat well.
- Place mixture in a 9×13 casserole dish and bake at 375 until squash is tender, about 45 minutes.
- Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top and serve.
- put it in the microwave for a few minutes to soften the skin, which makes it easier to cut and peel
- Use an ice cream scoop with a flat edge (like in the picture) to scoop out your seeds. This is a game changer!
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