Sage and garlic hasselback butternut squash with apple cider bourbon glaze
I often find the most challenging part of venturing outside my comfort zone to be the moment I actually decide to take action. Some people get an idea in their head and run with it, while for others we require a little pep talk to get us moving. And I know our individual strengths differ, but we all possess the qualities to — for lack of a better phrase — get shit done. But that first step is always, always the hardest.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I try to grow my business. I am the last person in the world who should be designing a website, and yet look around! I did this. I mean, with the help of many, many team members supporting me. When I look at the changes I’ve made on the site, the endless hours spent on the phone with tech support and html gurus who are likely rolling their eyes at my questions, I kind of want to celebrate the fact that I picked up the phone in the first place!
Being a small business owner is not easy. I could write a whole post on the many hats you have to wear just to get things up and running (finance and accounting, marketing, sales, networking, tech support, time management, DRIVE), but I’ll spare you since there’s plenty of content on the internet already. On the plus side, I feel like I am finally applying many of the ‘useless’ skills I learned over the years in mandatory, uninteresting courses throughout high school and college, (I still don’t know why I had to torture myself with AP Physics…).
I’m currently working alongside a number of extremely talented food photographers and bloggers in a course designed to help us find our voice and build our brands. I’ve gotta admit, as excited as I am to push forward, I’m struggling to find myself.
For instance, this week I’m supposed to create a mood board that will work as inspiration for the type of message I want to convey in my photos. It’s an amazing assignment because already it has the wheels turning in my mind. What is it that I want to say to the world? But the images I’m drawn to are not at all what I’ve been creating. There’s a divergence, and I’m not sure what to change and how to get to the finish line.
Food photography is becoming an oversaturated industry. Not everyone is going to make it — that’s a given in any profession — but it feels like everyone is dipping their toes in the sand. The competition to outshine one another can feel fierce. Thankfully, I’m surrounding myself with like-minded people (mostly women, it turns out) who are taking me by the hand and showing me which steps to take to reach my goals. A year from now when I reflect on my own personal growth, I promise to pay it forward.
This dish was inspired by a year-old recipe from Bon Appetit magazine. You’ve heard of hasselback potatoes, right? They were all the rage a few years back. It’s this idea of creating layers in food (initially potatoes) where you can build flavors from the inside out and manipulate the texture during the cooking process into something… new. Bon Appetit featured a hasselback butternut squash with bay leaves and, until now, I couldn’t get the image out of my mind.
I’m just gonna say it: my version is better. I stuffed the squash with thinly sliced garlic cloves and fresh sage leaves (my absolute favorite herb). The glaze, which is brushed on the squash during roasting and then poured lovingly over the finished product, is laced with bourbon. You’re welcome. But to contrast all those naturally sweet flavors, I made a savory panko topping, crushed some spicy pecans on top (Trader Joe’s!), and finished it off with tangy goat cheese. If there is a more perfect side dish for fall, I challenge you to share it with me.
A dear friend of mine recently told me not to doubt myself so much. Who cares that most everything has been done already? Draw inspiration from what you see, and then go out and do it better.Print
- 1 large butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 10–12 sage leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves, (thinly sliced)
For the glaze
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 8 large sage leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, (crushed)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
For the topping
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, (freshly grated)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup spiced pecans, (crushed (Trader Joe’s, but you can use regular toasted pecans tossed with ¼ teaspoon cayenne))
- 2 scallions, (thinly sliced)
- ⅓ cup goat cheese, (crumbled)
- Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425 F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should read the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼”), 15-18 minutes.
- Combine butter, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When butter has melted and sauce begins to boil add sage, garlic, and cinnamon, then cook for 5 minutes. Add bourbon and cook for another minute, then turn the heat down very low.
- Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck sage leaves and thinly sliced garlic between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.
- Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using a pastry brush to lift off any glaze in dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, about 45 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine panko, parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sprinkle panko mixture evenly on top of both butternut squash halves. Return to oven and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, just until panko has browned. Top with crushed pecans, scallions, and goat cheese. Serve immediately.