Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You Can Do It, Put Your Hands into It

Although this next dish is not one that requires much fondling, preparing it led to an enlightenment on two of my best assets: my hands.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Curry and White Raisins
Setting out the diced butternut squash on a sheet tray, I proceeded to sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil before putting it in the oven to roast. On impulse, I picked up the spoon resting beside me to mix everything together and just as quickly, placed it back down; this was a job suited for none other than my very own two hands.

Your hands and the five digits that extend from each one are as vital a tool as any in the kitchen. Just a few quick tosses and that sheet of squash had a sheen slicker than a well-greased Jheri curl, and every square inch of those orange cubes was thoroughly covered in seasoning. My hands, oily and flecked with grainy condiments had done their duty and they had done it well.

Would mixing the squash with a spoon really have made a huge difference to the final product? Not exactly. But by using my hands I added a little bit of love to the dish. That love, my friends, has got to be the number one secret ingredient in making everything taste better.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Get in there and bond with your food; squish it in between your palms and let it fall between your fingers. Utensils can be so impersonal at times. Besides, when something looks so sexy it can be hard to keep your hands off. By literally becoming closer to your food and getting acquainted on a more intimate level, you’ll feel all the more proud when the final product comes out awesome. It might be greasy or sticky, but so what? Wash your hands.

The main component of a dish, usually a protein, might be the star of an entrée course but the sides are what help it shine; they complete a meal and make it more exciting. This roasted butternut squash with curry and white raisins is incredibly simple and tasty. The curry gives it a deep flavor that is perfectly suited to accompany cold weather dishes. This would go great with pork or even on its own as a crostini topping for an appetizer.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Curry and White Raisins:
- 1 large butternut squash, diced
- Olive oil, salt and pepper to season for roasting
- ½ cup white raisins
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- ½ tsp curry powder
- 2 Tablespoons diced pancetta
- 1 shallot, diced
- A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish
• Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a sheet tray, spread out butternut squash and season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of regular olive oil; mix all together. Put in the oven until the squash is tender and starts to brown, about 30 minutes.
• While the squash is roasting, sauté pancetta. Once some of the fat has rendered from the pancetta, add the diced shallot and cook until pancetta is slightly crispy and shallot is translucent.
• In a bowl, mix roasted squash, sautéed pancetta and shallots, and all other ingredients together; finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve as a side dish with pork or as a crostini topping.


Sommer J said...

oh yum yum yum!

it's fun using your hands for sure. though when I ask my sometimes messy children to help (kids who like to play in dirt and occasionally, ahem toilet dive) they turn their noses up!

HAHA @ well greased Jheri curl. That's scary- not the coated squash, but jheri curls!

Koci said...

I'm loving this combination of butternut squash and curry. Sounds delicious!

And playing with your food is the best part! It's so fun to get hands-on.

Evan Thomas said...

This sounds so delicious! I love butternut squash roasted any which way. I need to try it with pancetta

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Using your hands is pivotal. Agreed they are the best kitchen tools around.

Love the combo of flavors complimenting the lovely roasted butternut squash.

Two messy thumbs up!

Adelina said...

I love the combination of the curry and dried fruit with the squash. Sounds great!

Victoria said...

I mix with my hands too! My dad once insisted it would be easier with a spatula, but I just needed to get my hands in there, haha. This curried squash looks awesome!

Magic of Spice said...

What a fantastic dish...I love playing with my food :)
"Well-greased Jheri curl"-Classic, lol

Karen said...

I've got to try butternut squash with curry! I bet it's wonderful. I've just managed to convince my hubby that butternut squash is not awful, so this will be another good dish to break him in with.
And I completely agree about sides being an important part of a meal. I find that I spend more time planning appetizers and sides than the main entree.

Angie's Recipes said...

Yummy! Love the curry in the squash.

Indie.Tea said...

Yum, the roasted squash dish looks delicious.
And I loved the way you described making and enjoying the dish. Very sexy :)


Yeah, hands are usually the best utensils! I'm loving the addition of raisins!

Beth said...

That recipe looks sensational. What's better, no one else in my house likes squash, so I'll have it all to myself!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

i love this recipe..the curry and the squash sounds just delish!

Monet said...

I love using my hands when cooking/baking. One of my favorite parts of making bread is getting to knead the dough! This looks like a warm and flavorful fall side dish. Thank you for sharing!

Alice said...

That looks so yummy! I'm a big curry/squash/raisins fan. I'm so glad it's squash season!

mangocheeks said...

Looks rather good.