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Vegetables, Vegetarian

Spiced squash and pear puree

Spiced squash and pear puree
Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

The big bang captures too much of our attention at Christmas. As kids (and maybe even later), we immediately go for the biggest packages under the tree, ignoring the more apparently modest stockings by the fireplace. The adult equivalent of ... Read more

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 1 hour roasting time for the squash | Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 (2 3/4 -pound) winter squash
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 amaretti almond cookies, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Step 1Heat oven to 400 degrees. Split the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side up on a cookie sheet and roast until it can be easily pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Step 2When cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the squash meat, leaving behind the papery shell. Put the meat in a food processor with the pear, shallot and butter and puree until smooth. Pulse in the salt, dried mustard, white pepper and crushed amaretti. Pulse in the balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more salt or vinegar if necessary. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated tightly covered.)

Step 3When almost ready to serve, transfer the puree into a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until it bubbles and thickens. Serve immediately.

Note: You can use any winter squash for this; the best candidates are acorn, Table Queen and butternut.

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