Have you ever been intimidated by unfamiliar fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, not knowing what they are, or how they might be prepared?

For me, one of these strange beasts was butternut squash, a pear-shaped, beige-colored gourd that shows up on produce stands every autumn. It wasn’t till my teens that I finally realized I had been eating this lovely squash as one of my favorite Turkish desserts, kabak tatlısı (pronounced Kuh-buck tot-luh-suh)!Beyhan Trock Butternut Squash cutting

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 was actually a weirdly-shaped winter vegetable!?!  I just knew I had to include it as one of the 101 recipes in my book, The Ottoman Turk and the Pretty Jewish Girl—Real Turkish Cooking.

Buy squash that weigh about 3 to 4 pounds each. Note that the more orange the flesh color, the sweeter the flavor will be. 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.

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.