Turkish Butternut Squash Dessert
I always thought that the beautiful delight my mother served every Thanksgiving was some exotic pumpkin or sweet potato drenched in syrup and topped with chopped nuts. Who knew this glorious deep-orange delicacy, with the tender texture and hint of lemon was actually a weirdly-shaped winter vegetable!?! Butternut Squash Dessert is served room temperature and has a fresh, bright aroma. After a big Thanksgiving meal, it’s a welcome alternative to heavy pumpkin pie. This dish is incredibly easy to make, but you must start it in the morning since it must sit on the counter for five hours before you actually cook it. Recipe from The Ottoman Turk and the Pretty Jewish Girl—Real Turkish Cooking © 2012 by Beyhan Cagri Trock.
- 2 medium butternut squash
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 cups crushed walnuts
- Because butternut squash has a tough skin, I have a particular way I like to cut it. First, grasp it firmly and use a large sharp knife to slice it in half, width-wise. Turn halves and cut each again to quarter the squash. Remove seeds* and most of the stringy pulp. (Mom actually liked to save some of the stringy part because it’s the sweetest!) Lay pulp side face down and slice squash in 2-inch slices. Set them on their side and cut away at least ¼-inch of skin as well as pale flesh, leaving only the deep orange. Cut slices into two or three bite-size pieces.
- Layer the squash pieces in a large heavy pot, pouring sugar over each layer. Cover pot and set aside for 5 hours until contents become quite juicy. Then simmer covered over very low heat for 1 hour. Do NOT stir. If you need to adjust pieces, do so carefully. Squash is done when it is tender when pierced with a fork. It should almost “melt in your mouth. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool.
- Gently arrange squash on a large serving platter. Pour any remaining juices over top and allow to cool completely to room temperature. Sprinkle half the walnuts on top, reserving remainder in a small bowl near the platter so that guests can sprinkle more nuts on their individual plate if they like. Heavenly!
- *If you like salted pumpkin seeds, try this. Rinse the squash seeds and spread them on a baking sheet to dry overnight. Sauté them for 15 minutes in a few tablespoons of salt water in a skillet over medium-high heat. Allow to dry.