WOW your guests at Thanksgiving (or anytime) with this impressive Hasselback Butternut Squash with Bay Leaves side dish. The perfectly thin, uniform slices make any dish a showstopper. As the squash bakes, the slices fan out slightly for a crowd-pleasing presentation. Once cooked, the preparation is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Need I say more?
The bay leaves tucked between some of the slices will perfume the vegetable as it cooks. While the squash spends its first round in the oven, you’ll prepare the glaze until it looks like rich caramel and then use it to baste with every 10 minutes or so while the squash finishes roasting to an almost shellacked-looking exterior.
When making the thin slices, put a thin dowel or chopstick on either side of the squash so that you don’t accidentally cut all the way through. If you’re interested in creating a similar effect with spuds, check out my blog from a couple of years ago on the impressive Hasselback Yukon Gold Potato.
A trick I use to aid in cutting the squash is to first score it in half with a fork along the length on both sides, then slice through the bottom seed end. Finally cut through the stem end which is a bit more difficult. And I have to admit, peeling a squash is sooo not my thing, so I enticed the Mr., who is stronger than me, to do the deed.
After scooping out the seeds, peel away the skin and pith.
A word to the wise about the Fresno pepper. You know I gravitate toward all things spicy, but I only left the slices in the glaze about 1 minute at the most, in Step 3. It was one hot chile pepper! They add a nice pop of color used as garnish at the end. Guests can always remove them if they don’t want any more heat. Me? I ate mine 😉
Hasselback Butternut Squash with Bay Leaves
1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
8 dried bay leaves
- Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should reach the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼”), 15–18 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring chile, maple syrup, butter, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally and removing chile as soon as desired heat level is reached (set chiles aside for serving), until just thick enough to coat spoon, 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and keep glaze warm.
- Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through.
- Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck bay leaves between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.
- Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using pastry brush to lift off any glaze in dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, 45–60 minutes.
- Serve topped with reserved chiles.
A serving size is about 5-6 slices.
Do Ahead: Squash can be roasted 4 hours ahead. Let cool until just warm; cover and store at room temperature. Reheat before serving.
We paired our Hasselback squash with juicy, pan-grilled T-bone steaks seared to a perfect medium-rare, and grilled asparagus spears. Then for even more goodness, we smothered them in sautéed mushrooms and shallots. OMG, what a meal!
Hasselback squash recipe by Ann Redding & Matt Danzer from Bon Appétit