Winter vegetables typically require love – and a creative cooking strategy. You don’t have to get fancy or take hours to prepare or cook them. The key is often oven roasting. Using a high temperature blast of heat and a bit of fat sears vegetable chunks or slices on the outside and leaves the inside creamy soft. These Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Slices with Thyme take less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook – a perfect side dish for a poultry, meat or vegetarian main course.
The sweet and nutty flavor of the squash itself, combined with a light coating of butter and maple syrup, gives the slices a pleasantly sweet taste. Dusting them with dried thyme, salt, and pepper balances that sweetness out with a savory tang. The roasting process brings out the best in this sweet-and-savory blend.
There is no resisting the aroma of these Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Slices with Thyme as they come out of the oven!
The only part of the process that requires the least bit of effort is slicing the squash. It isn’t complex: using a large, sharp knife, the slicing just takes patience and caution.
One hint – microwaving the entire squash for 1-2 minutes on high will make it slightly softer and easier to peel and slice.
If you are concerned about cutting yourself, cut the large bulb of the squash in half lengthwise, so that you have a flat edge and end up with half moons instead of full slices. Here are two different descriptions of how to do it with a halved squash – from Cooking Light and Serious Eats.
I cut even the large bulb in full slices – that looks nice, but is more difficult. (I scored the marks for the slices, then rocked the knife until it went through the squash bulb.) Don’t feel as though you have to do it this way in order to prove yourself – the half moons taste just as good.
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Slices with Thyme
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (real not maple-flavored pancake syrup)
- 1 tablespoon flavorless oil E.g. canola or avocado
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt Kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Peel and slice the squash, reserving the seeds if you want to roast them too. See note below regarding slicing.
- Combine the butter, maple syrup and oil and heat in a microwave at a low setting or on the stovetop under a low light, just until the butter is melted. Stir to combine.
- Brush each slice with the butter/oil/maple syrup mixture and place it, brushed side down, on a large sheet pan. Brush the top sides with the mixture, sprinkle with about half the thyme and with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Turn the slices with a metal or silicone spatula, add thyme, salt and pepper to the already-cooked side (now on top), and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
Microwaving the uncut squash for 1-2 minutes on high makes it easier to slice. Use a large, well-sharpened knife when cutting the squash. If it is large, cut the squash in half at the neck and cut the large bottom bulb in half lengthwise to make half moons instead of full slices.
Using a parchment-lined sheet pan saves time on clean-up. (I didn't for this batch, but often do when roasting vegetables.)
The top side does not look cooked halfway through the cooking. Once you turn the lsices over, you'll see that the bottom side has browned and the edges are nicely caramelized.
If you love roasting vegetables, another idea is to combine several of winter’s bounty, turning them into a delightful casserole. Radishes, carrots and potatoes, anyone?
Want to roast another vegetable as an easy side or main dish? These vegetables are also great roasted.
Asparagus, broccoli florets, and green beans can even be roasted in the toaster oven.