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Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
It’s tricky to mess with tradition on Thanksgiving, but with a few tweaks, some typically one-note side dishes can become boldly flavored, exciting dishes.
Instead of pureeing butternut squash and loading it up with butter, we cut it into chunks and roast it, seasoning it with fresh ginger and Chinese five-spice to complement its natural sweetness.
To enliven sautéed greens, we skip the spinach and turn to kale instead. Charring the hardy green gives it a bittersweet flavor and a nutty edge, reminiscent of oven-roasted kale chips. It then gets a bright squeeze of lime and a bit of heat from sliced chilies.
And for a unique take on mashed potatoes, we got inspiration from stoemp (pronounced STOOMP), a hearty Belgian dish that mixes the spuds with finely cut winter vegetables. Our version includes leeks, carrots and cabbage, with a good dose of bay and garlic for fragrance and flavor.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Ginger and Five-Spice
Start to finish: 40 minutes
You will need two large, heavy rimmed baking sheets for this recipe because crowding one pan will inhibit flavorful browning that is the key to this dish’s success. The squash can be peeled, seeded, cut into chunks and refrigerated in zip-close bags for up to two days before cooking. Many grocery stores sell butternut squash that has already been peeled, seeded and cut into chunks. We found that this variety does not brown as well as squash we prepped ourselves, though it tasted equally good. If you purchase precleaned squash, you will still need about 4 pounds.
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
Heat the oven to 500°F with racks in the upper and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil.
In a large bowl, toss the squash with the butter, ginger, five-spice powder, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Divide evenly between the prepared baking sheets and distribute in even layers. Roast, switching and rotating the pans halfway through, until well browned, 25 to 35 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with the chives and crystallized ginger (if using). Serve warm or at room temperature.