During Fall and Winter in California we revel in squash and pumpkins any which way we can get them - roasted, pureed, in soups, pastas, shaved in to salads, etc. Chef Michael Williams, from restaurant Avow in Napa, blew us away with quite possibly the perfect squash dish. Mike keeps the dished balanced and seasonal with the addition of apples, pomegranates and and hazelnuts.
Roasted Winter Squashes with Apple and Onion Puree
3 small butter nut squash - diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 delicata squash - sliced into 1/2 inch "half moons"
3 shallots - sliced
1 cup hazelnuts - crushed
2 bunches of Sage
1 pomegranate's worth of seeds
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons Cobram Estate Classic EVOO
Pine cone bud syrup (sub maple or local honey)
Fresh cracked black pepper
For the Apple and Onion Purée
2 Fuji apples - thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples - thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion - thinly sliced
6 tablespoons Cobram Estate Classic EVOO
1 16oz pack of silken tofu
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Prep time - 40 minutes
Cook time - 30 minutes
Start by tossing the cut squash in a large mixing bowl with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, a few pinches of salt, and some cracked black pepper. Transfer the squash to a parchment lined baking tray(s) and roast in the 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until just tender. This step can be done ahead of time.
To make the puree:
In a sauce pot sweat apples and onions in 3 tablespoons EVOO until translucent. This should take 10-12 minutes on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the sweat down apple and onion mixture to a blender with the tofu. Start by pulsing the blender to break up the mixture. Once the contents of the blender start to come together, turn the blender on high to puree. While the contents are spinning, slowly add a drizzle of 3 tablespoons EVOO to the blender to emulsify. Season with salt to taste. Set aside and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
In a large skillet sweat shallots in two tablespoons EVOO for 4-6 minutes on a medium heat. Add the hazelnuts and 1 bunch of rough cut sage to the shallots and toast until aromatic. Toss in the roasted squash. At this point, check and adjust seasoning with salt one more time.
To serve, ladle the apple and onion puree in to a serving bowl. Spoon the squash and hazelnut mixture on top of the apple and onion puree. Finish the dish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, the remainder of the sage, torn into pieces, and a drizzle of the pine-cone bud syrup or honey.