A few months ago we celebrated my Mam’s birthday. My mam loves Mexican food – well probably more Tex-Mex, to be honest, and so I prepared a feast. We had so much food. I think we had two different types of rice – my Easy Dressed-Up Cilantro/Coriander Rice and Green Rice (will have to share some day but as it’s something that I only make, from a recipe book, on very special occasions that will be some time in the distant future), as well as chicken and beef, lots of veggies, burritos, tacos and salads. In two words: A FEAST!
The chicken was from this recipe book that I bought for my sister a couple of years ago called Everyday Mexican and it’s a wonderful little book that includes aforementioned Green Rice as well as this fantastic Chicken Fajitas recipe where the chicken is marinated in honey/maple syrup, oregano and chili-flakes. It was a hit, particularly with the adults at the table and I definitely need to make it again at some point.
The taste of that chicken had remained with me and I loved the marinade so much that I started to think what else I could use it with when the idea of marinating butternut squash went off like a light bulb and the rest, as they say, was history.
I consider this a “base recipe” and as you’ll see over the next few weeks I have incorporated it into several different meals where it is a star ingredient. One thing I will say is if you are working, this is the type of recipe to leave until the weekend or to have another dinner planned to eat while you marinade, especially if you go the full three hours! BUT, it’s worth it. All of the ingredients work really well together but the chili is my favourite bit. It shines through with every bite, and if you leave the cooked butternut squash for a day or two in the fridge, it gets even better. Be warned though, little mouths and sensitive mouths may not like this dish.
So without any further ado, here’s the recipe:
Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash
(adapted from Everyday Mexican, a collection of essential recipes – link to Amazon included)
- 1 butternut squash (medium – large, or 2 small), peeled, seeds scooped out*, and diced into approx one inch thick*
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp maple syrup/honey**
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- salt and pepper to season
- Place the oil, maple syrup/honey, red wine vinegar, oregano, chili, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl or dish and mix together.
- Add the butternut squash and toss, making sure each piece is covered in some marinade.
- Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours. Make sure you turn the butternut squash chunks at least once in the three hours.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
- Put the butternut squash and marinade into a roasting tin/casserole dish and place in the middle rung of the oven. Turn the butternut squash every 20 minutes. The squash will reduce a little in volume as it cooks.
- The butternut squash will be cooked in 40-50 minutes but I prefer the butternut squash to be nicely browned so I leave it in for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and put into a bowl, ensuring you include any remaining cooked marinade. Serve immediately or wait to cool and use as you wish.
*I cook the seeds as they are an optional addition for the next recipe I will be sharing.I use TheKitchn’s guide to roasting butternut squash seeds.
**I used honey with the chicken but I used both honey and maple syrup with the butternut squash. I don’t know which I prefer, so try both and let me know what you think.
Not a spice fan: If you want to try this but don’t like spicy food, perhaps halve the marinading time. You could also halve the chili flakes. Let me know how it turns out!
Suggestions for use: I’ve a great recipe coming next week that showcases this butternut squash but in the meantime you could add to your own salads or eat with rice for a simple healthy meal.