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Roasted Squash with Mint, Pepitas and Balsamic: Gone Looking

We had an enormous dog growing up, with a mild-mannered name: Bonnie. There has been much debate amongst my family as to who actually came up with the name. I believe that my grandfather (Ded) would tell you that it was he who suggested we call our new dog Benny. When it became clear that Benny was going to be a girl (the waitlist for a Bouvier Des Flanders puppy in Red Bank, New Jersey is quite long, so you take what you get), we made a minor update to the name.

I loved Bonnie unconditionally even though I was always jealous that the person she really loved most was my dad. There wasn’t a night when my dad would come home that she didn’t greet him at the door, jumping, her entire body convulsing with excitement. When my mom would get out of bed to take a shower, Bonnie would crawl into what she probably believed was her rightful place. She was happiest, I believe, nuzzled up to him. But she understood us as a unit.

She barked loudly when our conversations elevated into shouting. She would often sit in the very center of the living room when we were all together so that she could eye us all. She loved my dad the way you would your first love, but I think my grandpa was really her best friend. She spent days lounging with him while he read or watched TV. She fostered a different relationship with each of us.

Dogs have a funny way of knowing us.

In the years since I’ve moved away from my parents home, I have wistfully dreamed of the day that I would bring home a puppy to my home. The day it would sit on my lap, and pee, scared of its first night in a new home. But there’s never been a right time. Landlords in San Francisco don’t jump at the chance to rent to dog owners, and with rents steadily rising, we’ve chosen to stay in our dog-free home. I’ve come to accept my dog-free life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t look. Looking is quite nice. Isn’t that what we’re all doing? Looking? For our best friend. For our dream wedding dress. For our magical future home. When one is found, we’re looking for something to complement it.

I’ve found my best friend. And now, I’m finding myself in a serious nesting stage. I’m obsessed with my home life. My bedspread and the dining table. Cozy blankets and coat racks. Puppies and…kiddos…someday soonish. I’d like to think that in 2012, I’m going to focus on being happy with being happy…and window shopping.

In the fall and winter months, one of my go-to veggies is squash. There are lots of different varieties out there — from quick and easy delicata to the glorious whole pumpkin. Around Thanksgiving, I get a little squashed out, so I take a little break. But come January, I’m ready for a few more squash dishes before Spring-time produce arrives.

This dish, which features sweet and nutty kabocha topped with mint, pepitas and aged balsamic makes a fantastic vegetarian lunch, or a side dish with some roasted meat.

Roasted Squash with Mint, Pepitas and Balsamic

adapted from Bon Appetit
*serves 4, with leftovers for lunch

1 kabocha squash
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup of pepitas
1 tablespoon of good quality aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
French Gray Sea Salt, for serving

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and cut the squash into 1 inch-thick wedges. Leave the skin on but scrape out the seeds and discard them.
2. Toss the squash with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, lay the wedges on a lined baking sheet.
3. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes, turning mid-way through the cooking process. When done, the squash will be lightly golden and can easily be pierced with a fork.
4. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Toss frequently while cooking for approximately 4-5 minutes (the seeds should begin to puff and color slightly).
5. Transfer the seeds onto a paper towel and season with some salt.
6. To serve, arrange the squash on a large platter. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with mint and pepitas. Season with fresh black pepper and French Gray Sea Salt, to taste.

Musical Pairings: Stars – Set Yourself On Fire + Roasted Squash with Mint, Pepitas and Balsamic

Matt’s big news…on the Turntable side!

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Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • http://cookieandkate.com/ Cookie and Kate

    I hope you can get a dog someday soonish! Mine makes an immeasurable difference in my life. I love this recipe, too. I finally found a kabocha squash and it’s been sitting in my cabinet for a little while. I’m thinking/hoping that this recipe will motivate me to roast it, finally! It looks almost too pretty to eat.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    I can only imagine how much fun Cookie is! I, too, hope that I’ll be able to get a dog someday soonish. Probably not until we move! If you like squash, you will LOVE kabocha. It’s so creamy, nutty, sweet and delicious.

  • http://twitter.com/drewhatton Drew Hatton

    Such a lovely post! “Dogs have a funny way of knowing us.” My first bestie was a Fox Terrier named Pupcake. He was such a patient playmate for me when I was little, and went everywhere I went on the farm. I hope you’re at least getting exposure to other people’s dogs until you can share a home with one!

    I commend your goal for 2012 of being happy being happy, and hope my own year accomplishes the same.

    Cheers!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Drew! Pupcake! What a fabulous name for a little terrier. Matt says that I’m a little crazy with the dogs…I stop in the street to pet them on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure that heaven is a roomful of puppies and ice cream.

  • http://blog.muffinegg.com/ Rachel

    I’ve been in that nesting, homemaking mode recently too. I could probably to with a resolution to be happy with what I have, rather than looking for that next thing to add to my life.
    Beautiful squash. Lets eat as much squash as we can before winter is over!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Let’s do it! xo

  • http://www.ladomestique.com Jess O’Toole

    The squash looks so good! I’m just coming around to the idea of eating squash again too. On the subject of dogs, I always marvel at how our little dachshund, Minnie, treats my husband and I differently. She knows that I am the one for snuggling and my husband is the one for playing. I love her so much it hurts.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Oh my gosh..I wanna see a pic! I wanna come over and play with her! See? I’m totally crazy about dogs.

  • http://www.sixteenbeans.com kyleen

    I love butternut squash! This looks absolutely mouthwatering.

  • lisaiscooking

    I’m a big fan of winter squash, and the toppings look great with this kabocha!

  • Megan Gordon

    Yes, Kasey! I think the winter months have a way of doing that to us, too (nesting, that is), yes? If I could figure out a way to get paid to bee-bop around my apartment all day, I’d be happy as a clam.

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Kyleen!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Thanks, Lisa!

  • http://www.turntablekitchen.com Kasey

    Girl, you know it. I’m right there with ya!

  • Kristen @ The Endless Meal

    This looks perfect for the dinner party I’m planning this weekend!

  • Kate

    Just discovered this from the link in your newsletter – gorgeous! Will be making this weekend :-)

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