favorite ginger sauce + butternut squash
I recently saw an article in Bon Appetit, proclaiming the virtues of roasted ginger. Duh, I thought. Ginger and garlic, the ultimate of duos, and I've only been roasting garlic before incorporating the two in dressings, sauces, and curries? As most incredible cooking ideas do, the thought of roasted ginger entered my mind and stayed there. I thought of a million possible uses before even tasting roasted ginger myself. Like the flavor of roasted garlic, I imagined that the ginger would mellow out and deepen, adding a subtle backdrop instead of having an in-your-face moment. It's the middle of fall, and I still had not touched a squash, so I decided that whatever ginger sauce came to fruition would shine on a whole roasted butternut squash. Additionally, it's Halloween, and while baking and sweet treats are far less tempting to me than savory delights, I at least tried to incorporate Halloween colors into this dish.
This ginger butternut squash dish is unapologetically vegetarian, and as filling as one needs on a chilly fall evening. Ginger and garlic provide a mellow zing and heat, champagne vinegar adds a tart note, mirin brings the sweetness, toasted sesame oil the umami, and avocado oil mayo pulls the whole thing together into a creamy sauce. The butternut squash is simply roasted, and if there's a reason to spend some time on presentation, hasselbacking the squash makes for a photo-worthy dish. Otherwise, chop up the squash as you please, and dress the squash with the ginger dressing for a hearty salad.
1 butternut squash
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup black quinoa (or any color :) black for effect)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 large piece of ginger root (exactly how you buy it in the store! unpeeled, uncut.)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons Sir Kensingtons' avocado oil mayonnaise (Fabanaise for vegan)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (can substitute more sesame oil, or any other flavorless oil - not olive oil)
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (can substitute rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar)
1 3/4 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon yuzu juice (can substitute fresh orange juice)
1/4 cup minced mint
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced scallions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place ginger, unpeeled and uncut, on baking sheet and set timer for 45 minutes. Place 4 cloves of garlic on the stove in a small saucepan, with the cloves covered in olive oil. Bring oil to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and set timer for 20 minutes.
Slice ends off of butternut squash, and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Peel with a vegetable peeler or knife...be careful if using a knife. Peeling a butternut squash is a task. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over each butternut squash half and rub all over using your fingers. Place in the oven for 18 minutes.
Remove garlic from heat. Pass garlic through a fine mesh sieve, and reserve oil for another use. Cook 1 cup quinoa by bringing it to a boil with 2 cups of water, then reducing the heat to low and covering. Check after 15 minutes to see if quinoa has absorbed all the water, and white curlicues are visible in each grain.
If you're hasselbacking (more challenging): After the squash has roasted for 18 minutes, remove and test it by cutting a thin slice. If the knife slides through easily and the squash retains its shape, great. If it is still a bit too hard, place it in the oven for a few more minutes. Create thin slices in each squash half, but stop before cutting all the way through, so the squash retains its shape. Cover each squash half with another tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle each with kosher salt. Place in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
If you're chopping the squash (less challenging): After the squash has roasted for 18 minutes, remove and dice. Place back in the oven after tossing with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil for another 20-25 minutes, until squash is tender.
Remove ginger from the oven at 45 minutes. Peel the skin off with a knife or peeler - it should come off very easily. Blend all of the dressing ingredients in a blender until mostly smooth - a little chunkiness is OK.
Remove butternut squash from the oven. If hasselbacked, serve over a bed of quinoa, with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and drizzled generously with ginger sauce, scallions, mint, and parsley. Otherwise, served as a chopped butternut squash, quinoa, and herb salad tossed with ginger dressing.
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer.