Ancho Roasted Winter Squash with Avocado Lime Crema
Note: This recipe is one of many recipes submitted by our community that’s featured from our e-cookbook of holiday side dishes: “All Sides Welcome.” For more recipes like this, be sure to download the free e-book today.
Recipe by Tara Assi, Imperfect customer! From Tara:
I chose this recipe because it makes me feel good about eating seasonally and not wasting produce. It's healthy and has all the warm, sweet, and spicy flavors I love when the weather gets cold. While learning about the variety of dried chili peppers, I was inspired to combine the smoky-sweet flavor of ancho peppers with the rich, savory taste of winter squash. Topping it off with tangy and bright avocado crema balances out the flavors nicely. My favorite part of this recipe is how flexible you can be with the type of squash you use, which makes it perfect for using what you have in your kitchen. This would also be great with black beans as a vegetarian taco stuffing, added to a Southwestern breakfast scramble or in a breakfast burrito.
3 c of peeled and cubed Imperfect winter squash of choice (good varieties to use are butternut, kabocha, acorn, delicata, or even sweet potato if you don't have squash)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Imperfect lime
1 large ripe Imperfect avocado (or two small ripe avocados)
1/2 bunch of Imperfect cilantro
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Toss the squash with 1 tbsp olive oil in a large bowl until well-coated. Add the brown sugar, ancho chili powder, 1/2 Tbsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Toss well to combine until all of the squash is evenly coated.
Spread the squash on a lined baking sheet and roast for 25-30 min, or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.
While the squash is roasting, remove the avocado pit and scoop the rest into a blender or food processor. Add in all of the cilantro stems, zest from 1/2 of the lime, juice from the whole lime, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and the remaining black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Add 3 Tbsp of water and blend until smooth. The crema should be the consistency of a thick salad dressing (like ranch). If it's too thick, add another Tbsp of water and blend well. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
Lightly chop the remaining cilantro leaves and set aside.
Serve the squash with a generous drizzle of the avocado crema and top with cilantro. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Variations
Try garnishing the final dish with a crumble of queso fresco or a sprinkle of smoked paprika. If you’ve got fresh chiles around, they are delicious cut into strips or cubes and roasted alongside the squash too. For less heat, try bigger chiles like Poblanos or Anaheims. For a spicier dish, try a smaller pepper like a jalapeño or serrano. Hearty, sweet flavors like this squash benefit from something acidic to contrast their richness, so you can substitute a yogurt or sour cream sauce for the avocado crema if that is easier or more appealing for you.