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Seasoning after roasting intensifies flavors

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Fennel-cumin roasted butternut squash is perfect for festive holiday dinner tables.
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We tend to associate vinaigrettes with salad, but they actually are an easy — and speedy — way to add tons of flavor to all manner of dishes.

One of my favorites is roasted vege­tables. Too often, we only season roasted veggies before they go into the oven. While this certainly can produce delicious results, it can be limiting. By adding the seasonings before the vegetables are roasted, you effectively rule out any delicate flavors that can’t hold up to a sustained heat for a prolonged period.

And that’s where a vinaigrette comes in for this easy roasted butternut squash recipe that’s perfect for festive holiday dinner tables.

We start by oiling some cubed butternut squash, then roasting it until lightly browned outside and tender inside.

Only once it’s fully cooked do we season it. And for that we use a lightly warmed lemon vinaigrette spiked with toasted cumin and fennel seeds.

The result is intensely flavorful and incredibly balanced. And the best part is that it takes almost no extra time or effort than traditional roasting.

FENNEL-CUMIN ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

» 4 pounds butternut squash
» Olive oil
» 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
» 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
» 2 tablespoons lemon juice
» Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and seed squash, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Mound squash on baking sheet, then drizzle with several tablespoons olive oil. Toss with hands to coat evenly, then spread in an even layer.

Roast 15 minutes, then use spatula to turn pieces and roast another 15 minutes, or until evenly browned.

During final 5 minutes of roasting, in small, dry skillet over low heat, toast fennel and cumin seeds, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

When squash is done, transfer to bowl. Drizzle with dressing and gently toss to coat. Serve warm. Serves 8.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 230 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 4 g protein, 180 mg sodium

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