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Oven roasted butternut squash and tomatoes are at the heart of this unique side dish.
3 years ago this time, I was writing a book all about squash. Every single page; 141 of them and 80 recipes. Bound into paperback, with a stock photo of butternut squash on the front. The twenty some photos inside are black and white, taken with my first DSLR camera.
Many of you who read Heartbeet Kitchen now probably didn’t even know I had a space on the internet in 2013. I was very green, but very passionate. I knew I wanted to share food, and life thoughts with others, and discovery, at a time when I didn’t really know who I was or who I wanted to be. Then the book came as a surprise, approached by a small Minnesota publisher to write a manuscript on a Midwestern fruit or vegetable, that had history in the homes and farms of this part of the country. From there, Smitten with Squash was born, a labor of love and learning, writing and developing.
I look at my cookbook sitting on my shelf with all the others that have inspired my days in the kitchen. And there are new, beautiful cookbooks that land on my doorstep nearly every week, from one of my talented peers, which nothing makes me more excited than spending a day reading and cooking from.
But then there’s this weird feeling I get it, embarrassment and shame …. that comes from the place of the girl who’s always been hard on herself, a natural inner critic since a young age.
My book…. It doesn’t have thick paper with big, beautiful, glossy photos. It hasn’t been noticed by Food 52, or Bon Appetit. There was no book tour. There weren’t 1,000 copies sold on pre-order.
Comparison. The thief of joy. We all do it. But dang…. it’s not worth it.
Because underneath that embarrassment is a heart bursting proud of what I did. The words I wrote, the recipes I developed, the heart and soul I poured into Smitten with Squash. And how grateful I am for the doors it opened. How it shaped yet another part of me.
Even more so, the joy I get in hearing from people who tell me their favorite from the book, share a picture of what they’ve made from it, or say they carry it with them every fall when they’re at the market, trying to figure out which squash to try next. Or that such and such recipe turned their husband into a squash lover. My passion has spilled into another kitchen, around a family dinner table, into a market bag. And that’s more than enough.
About this unexpectedly, amazing fall dish:
Tomatoes and butternut squash are not the typical combination. I usually turn to more fall-ish things to pair squash with, like brussels sprouts, hearty greens, parsnips, oven baked okra, and apples. But in an attempt to use the whole, canned Muir Glen Organic tomatoes waiting patiently in my pantry, I wondered if they could work with the butternut sitting on my counter.
So I went searching for some inspiration and turned to the vegetable master himself, Ottolenghi. I found this recipe of his, which sounded amazing, but also time and ingredient intensive. But I loved the idea of the idea of sweet, oven roasted butternut squash, tomatoes (which would be the acidic component), and tangy, savory yogurt together.
I went with things I typically have on hand, and focused on the technique, to bring out the best in each part of the recipe. That meant roasting the squash and tomatoes on separate pans, at different temperatures, to ensure that the tomatoes wouldn’t burn at the higher heat that is key to caramelizing squash. Yet not slow roasting to the point that they became “sun-dried tomatoes”, losing all their juices.
Cardamom tends to be used in things like chai, or sweet baking application, but I find it works really well in savory applications too. I used it to make a simple yogurt sauce, grinding the cardamom seeds straight from the pods for optimal flavor, adding a little olive oil for richness. And to finish, a burst of fresh from minced parsley.
Taking the perfect bite, a little tomato, a little squash, a swipe of yogurt…. and I’m smitten, once again. Working together in the most delicious, unexpecting way. The textures and flavors, a vegetarian bombshell. And I have a new use for canned, whole tomatoes! (I typically only use them for making sauce, so it was great to find a new use for them!).
I particularly love using Muir Glen organic because all of their tomatoes go from field to can in just 8 hours. Which means they literally taste that fresh when you open the can. Roasting them in this manner lets their bright, bold flavor sing. For ease of finding, know that you can stock up on them at any Whole Foods around the country.
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Glad I found this website. My partner hates squash but I always find myself collecting them because….I don’t know. I just do. Pairing with tomatoes seems a perfect way to balance the squash and maybe change hubby’s opinion. That will be on the docket for this weekend. Why don’t more people promote that combination? After reading this post and hearing your thoughts I now must go find that book you wrote. Thank you.
Yes, I had no idea how delicious tomatoes and butternut squash were together until I developed this recipe!
No wonder I loved it so much!! I love Ottolenghi! I did use some nice fresh tomatoes, roasted on a rack at 400°F for a sweet savory flavor. Awesome. Have you every tried using a cooling/cooking rack? Try these out, they are the heaviest ones I have found on Amazon, and can the heat, don’t rust, and distribute heat evenly with perfect airflow around them. Try these racks by live-nimble. 8.5″ x 12″ rack https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GXPJNLW
12″x17″ rack https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BX6MW1Y
I appreciate this perspective so much. I struggle with comparing myself all. the. time. It’s such a hard, lonely feeling. But then I shake myself out of it, put my head down and do the work and do, just like you are doing focus on the good. Thanks for that sweet reminder.
I loved meeting you this week! I hope our path cross again soon.
Hard, lonely feeling. That truly is it. I feel like talking about it, and talking together is so helpful. And that’s probably why, because then we don’t feel so lonely.
Loved meeting you as well this week, such a fun time! I hope it happens again in the near future.
First off, I can’t vouch for your 2013 photography but dayuummm the photos in this post are so freaking gorgeous! If nothing else, you should be so proud of these photos and how much you’ve grown. Also, I feel so much of what you are saying here – I’m doing the last round of layout edits for my cookbook and I can’t help but constantly compare it to other ones and have this fear that it’s going to be inferior. It’s hard not to be hard on yourself ha.
I love this! We all have that inner comparing critic that tries to take down our joy and man is it easy to give in. Thank you for reminding us to be proud of our accomplishments, no matter what! Beautiful words, BEAUTIFUL recipe. I’ve never thought of using cardamom in something savory, but I have got to give this a try.
No truer words ever said. I, too, myself fell in a rabbit hole of comparison today. It’s not time well-spent.
I say you’re AWESOME AND AMAZING for being so ahead of your time in writing a book about a subject you are most passionate about. You paved the way for many–see it that way :) <3
Wasted time no more… right? You are also awesome, and inspiring, and real. And I love that about you. You open up and let things flow, play out as they do. And that is not easy. xo
hello lovely woman – i’m playing catch up on the past month and everything is so beautiful and delicious. i love your sentiments embraced here because you are amazing for publishing a book, period. the time, effort, dedication, and passion that is involved blows me away and keeps me inspired myself. — and this dish is serious business to me. the combination of late summer and autumn is excellent. recently i’d been wondering of tomato and cardamom and now i’ve got the perfect excuse – thank you always.
I cannot tell you how awesome this post is to read having birthed a book as well. It IS so hard to not compare!! Also the fact that it is so permanent and unchangeable (yet we as content creaters continue to grow and get better at our craft) can really be a cringeworthy experience. And I am also with you that it is worthy of such pride. Love love love. And also love this unexpected combo. Hugs my friend.
I love your heartfelt story and it’s so true. Why are we so hard on ourselves? It will just eat us up inside! What a lovely simple fall dish!
You had me at roasted tomatoes and butternut squash!
they’re gems together!
Someday I just want to hang out with you in the kitchen for a whole day. I feel like I’d learn so many new ways to combine ingredients! This looks fabulous, as do all of your recipes. xoxo
Amelia, you have no idea how much I’d love that. You could come stay with me and Melissa! I totally think we should plan it. xo
Oh girl. I know how you feel. But I have your book and I’ve used it quit a bit these past few weeks! It’s lovely and perfect for a squash-lover like myself. This recipe sounds so good. A combo I wouldn’t have thought of, and now can’t wait to try! Hugs!
oh, that makes me so happy that you’ve been using it for inspiration! appreciate the squash cheers. love you, girl.
Roasted tomatoes done that way are so good – like candy! I would have never thought to pair with yogurt!
You are constantly an inspiration to me in every way, my friend. You said it so well, comparison really is the thief of joy, and a battle that resonates with me. That inner critic, I sure know about her! ;) I remember when I first discovered your blog a couple years ago and was blown away that you had written a cookbook – and still am! Truly awesome.
I love the simplicity and the uniqueness of the flavors in this beautiful dish – itching to try it soon. xoxo.
Kudos to you for creating a cookbook, thats incredible! I think most of us perfectionists tend to oversee our accomplishments! This dish sounds amazing, never would have thought that butternut squash and tomatoes could go so well together but I trust the squash master ;)
Oh these words couldn’t be truer for me dear Amanda! It’s amazing you did this awesome thing (a cookbook!, eek!) but it’s hard when it doesn’t feel up to what you think it should be in comparison to others. I always like to think about how much work went into something (a lot!) and then think about how many times I could have stopped or could have said no, but instead I just DID IT. So proud of how far you’ve come sweet friend, this pair of vegetables is perfect in every way. xo