My Introduction to the Butternut Squash

Yesterday, on September 23rd, we marked the autumnal equinox, signifying the beginning of my favorite season of the year – fall. I couldn’t be more thrilled to kick off this season with one of my favorite fall vegetables: Butternut Squash. I’m going to make a very simple preparation with it – my Garam Masala Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks!

I learned about butternut squash and other types of squashes only after moving to the US. Butternut squash was the first one I tasted in the form of a creamy, delicately sweet soup. I also found it roasted in salads and loved its delicate texture and slightly sweet flavor.

Garam Masala Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks

While butternut squash is now available at specialty markets in India, growing up, it wasn’t commonly found in farmers’ markets or other grocery stores. After becoming familiar with it through Food Network, I started using the most common technique for cooking it: simply roasting cubes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I would make big batches of it and use it for various recipes, such as my autumn harvest salad, protein-packed quinoa salad, purée it into a soup, or use it as a simple topping for bruschetta.

Pairing the Butternut Squash with Leeks

For roasting the butternut squash, I like to add some chopped leeks into the mix. The mild, oniony flavor of the leeks mellows into a delightful sweetness as it roasts in the high heat, infusing the squash with its deliciousness. It simply melts in your mouth as you take a bite and elevates this humble side dish. If you can’t find leeks, green onions work too! Try to get the thicker green onions instead of the thin ones, so they don’t burn in the high oven heat during roasting.

Garam Masala Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks

Additionally, to make it easier, you can use pre-cut or frozen cubes of butternut squash that are readily available at grocery stores instead of peeling and cutting the squash on your own, which requires some practice and can be a bit time-consuming. 

An Indian Touch for the Butternut Squash

The Indian touch to this humble side dish comes from the garam masala, the quintessential Indian spice mix, which is added when roasting the butternut squash. The warming blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, and others that are essential in every garam masala recipe, elevates the roasted squash to a whole new level.

Garam Masala Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks

Don’t believe me? Next time, in addition to sprinkling salt and pepper on the butternut squash, season it with a generous pinch of this wonderful masala and taste the difference for yourself! I have outlined step-by-step details below that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen. I recommend making a big batch! So that you can make all the different varieties of dishes like soups, salads, bruschetta and most importantly, my adorable and absolutely delicious tartlets!

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Garam Masala Roasted Butternut Squash with Leeks


  • Author: Vasanti

Description

An easy recipe with step-by-step details for roasting Butternut Squash and Leeks spiced with Garam masala, the quintessential Indian spice mix.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 small butternut squash, about 11.5 lbs, peeled,
  • 1 large leek
  • 23 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, as needed
  • fresh cracked black pepper, as needed
  • 1/21 tsp garam masala

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).
  • Prepare the butternut squash by peeling the skin with a vegetable peeler.  Cut the top and bottom off and then cut it into a half horizontally where the narrower top meets the wider bottom. Cut the wider bottom of the squash in half and scoop the seeds out. Cube into ¾- to 1-inch cubes. 
  • Trim the ends of the leeks and cut in half and further into quarters along the length. At this point, fan the leaves and rinse the leeks well, as they tend to trap a lot of sand and debris. Chop the cleaned leeks into ½-inch pieces.
  • Transfer the cubed butternut squash and chopped leeks onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Drizzle the olive oil and season with salt, black pepper and garam masala.
  • Give it a good toss to mix everything well and spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.
  • Pop the baking sheet into the preheated oven. 
  • Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing half way through. 
  • After about 30 minutes, the mixture will turn golden brown and the squash cubes will be soft. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before using in another recipe like salad or soup. You can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 72 hours. 
  • To serve as a side dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm. 

Keywords: Healthy Recipes, Oven Roasting

Step-by-Step Details

Step: 1

Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Prepare the butternut squash by peeling the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the top and bottom off and then cut it into a half horizontally where the narrower top meets the wider bottom. Cut the wider bottom of the squash in half and scoop the seeds out. Cube into ¾- to 1-inch cubes. Trim the ends of the leeks and cut in half and further into quarters along the length. At this point, fan the leaves and rinse the leeks well, as they tend to trap a lot of sand and debris. Chop the cleaned leeks into ½-inch pieces. Transfer the cubed butternut squash and chopped leeks onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Step: 2

Drizzle the olive oil and season with salt, black pepper and garam masala. Give it a good toss to mix everything well and spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.

Step: 3

Pop the baking sheet into the preheated oven. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing half way through.

Step: 4

After about 30 minutes, the mixture will turn golden brown and the squash cubes will be soft. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before using in another recipe like salad or soup. You can refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 72 hours. To serve as a side dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Make it Easier and Quick

To make it easier, you can use pre-cut or frozen cubes of butternut squash that are readily available at grocery stores.

No Leeks?

If you can’t find leeks, you can substitute with green onions, spring onions, shallots or sweet white onions.

Recipe Variations

Try another type of squash like buttercup, delicata or acorn squash to make the recipe. The great thing about these varieties is that you don’t need to peel the skin!

The same recipe and roasting technique works very well if you use Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. root vegetables in place of the butternut squash.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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