Now that we’ve turned the calendar to November and tomorrow (already!) turn our clocks back, we’re moving away from harvest mode around here and very much looking forward to Thanksgiving.
Technically, our harvest ended about 10 days ago when we brought in our last fruit. All of our harvest guests (lovely folks who come to visit for a few days or a couple of weeks from all around the country to help out and learn a bit more about wine by really getting their hands dirty)have gone home now, back to their real jobs. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the winery, but all the fruit is in off the vines and instead of working all day every day, the regular cellar crew is only working all day most days now.
As is our winery tradition, we did a month of harvest dinners here at our house in October. Those hard-working folks need to be fed and so I cook hearty, nourishing meals for them and they all gather around our big table each night. I’ve written about this tradition here and here.
There are dishes I make every year during harvest because I know they work and there’s a lot of popular demand for them – meatloaf, Chicken Dijon, and moussaka spring to mind. However, I can’t resist sprinkling in some new dishes too, to keep things interesting, not least for the cook.
For instance, at our final dinner of the season last week (or perhaps the week before, the days get away from me) I made this beautiful and delicious Roasted Squash with Spicy Onions and Goat Cheese side dish. It was so good and with the striking colors, really beautiful too. I want to share it with you because, in addition to those already compelling qualities, it’s also a great dish for fall entertaining. Because guess what, it’s best served at room temperature! Hello Thanksgiving!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts
- 2 large butternut squash (about 4 lb.), peeled, seeded, sliced ¼” thick and about 3" long (kind of like oven fries)
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion, stirring often, until a bit charred and softened but not falling apart, 5–7 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and toss it all to combine. Remove the pan from heat and mix in the lime juice and honey. Let cool, then mix in the lime zest.
- Do ahead: Spicy onions can be made 3 days ahead. But leave out the lime zest and add it just before the final assembly. Cover and chill.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Once they're cool, put them in a clean dish towel and rub off the skins. Separate the nuts from the skins and coarsely chop them.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400°.
- Toss the squash and ¼ cup oil in a medium bowl, and season generously with salt and pepper. Divide the squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets so that it's in a single layer. Don't clean the bowl yet, you'll use it again. Roast the squash, undisturbed, until tender and starting to brown a bit, 15–20 minutes.
- Once the squash is done and has cooled just a bit, scrape it and the olive oil on the sheet pan back into the bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro and the spicy onions, and gently toss to combine and let it rest at room temperature.
- When you're ready to serve, add the hazelnuts and gently toss to combine. Then transfer the squash mixture to a large serving platter, scatter the crumbled goat cheese over all and drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.