Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler
. Halve lengthwise, discard the seeds, then cut into 1-inch dice
. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter ceases to foam
and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), molasses
and toasted spice rub. Mix well and let simmer
over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet or baking dish
large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny.
Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the warm squash and all the cooking liquids to a food processor
and process until smooth. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Serving suggestions: Serve the puree on its own as a side dish for roast
, or pork
; stir into polenta
just before the end of cooking; use as a stuffing
; make into a soup; or use to flavor pastina. Or omit the sage, season with ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg
to taste, and use as a substitute for canned pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie
Variation for Smoky Butternut Squash
: Cook the prepared squash on a baking sheet in a covered grill
with soaked chips
to give a slightly smoky taste. Substitute in any of the recipes that call for roasted squash. If cooking kabocha, acorn
, or other difficult-to-peel squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and rub the insides and cut edges with the vinegar/molasses mixture. Place on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and roast at 400 degrees F until tender. Scoop out and puree.
Yield: about 2 cups puree