I truly love Thanksgiving, funny enough I was actually born on Thanksgiving. It’s really lovely to sit down with family for a big meal in which everyone has made a contribution. I personally think that Thanksgiving is a close second to christmas, there’s the same feel in the air, the feeling of coziness and warmth.
There is nothing quite like a big home-cooked family meal, it can not be beat. I am so excited to dig into the thanksgiving grub this evening with my family. My grandparents have driven up bringing with them many casseroles, cranberry sauce and pies (all homemade by my grandma); and my sister is home from university to spend this weekend with us all.
Every year my family does some type of squash casserole and in the last few years the preparation of this dish has become my job. The first time I made it I think I was thirteen and I stuck strictly to some recipe that I found online. Since then I have become less of a recipe follower and overall much more adventurous in the kitchen. The original recipe I made required lots of refined sugar and I believe that it used sweet potatoes instead of squash (which is equally as good). Over the years I have adapted that original recipe to come up with my own more wholesome version of a family favourite and a thanksgiving must.
This dish is so warming and hardy, it is just bursting with fall flavours and colours too. I also have a low-key addiction to the maple pecans, they are so delicious! There have been occasions where most of the pecans didn’t make it to the top of the casserole if you’re catching my drift… I’m salivating just thinking about them. Also, the kitchen smells amazing when the pecans are being prepared (as if you needed any more persuading).
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!
Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Pecans
For the Squash
2 large butternut squashes
4 sprigs fresh thyme, roughly chopped
Sea salt & fresh pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
For the Maple Pecans
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Slice the squashes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rinse and roughly chop the thyme. Place the squash on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the squash is soft enough to stick a fork through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, bring the maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over low heat. Once boiling, whisk in the spices. Whisk periodically until the syrup begins to thicken. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Add the pecans to the syrup and mix until the nuts are evenly coated and no syrup remains in the pot. Transfer the nuts on to a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool completely.
- To assemble: scoop out the flesh of the squash into a large casserole dish. Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and more salt and pepper then mash until smooth. Reheat in the oven then sprinkle with the maple pecans.