Though not a traditional Thanksgiving dish per se, Myra Goodman’s Roasted Butternut, Fennel, and Cranberries recipe from The Earthbound Cook epitomizes autumn, while also combining several ingredients that are commonly used around the holiday. If you feel like trying your own spin on the dish, substitute in other winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, cipollini onions, shallots or yams. If you’re looking to make a vegetarian or vegan dish, the pancetta can be eliminated.
3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
3 large fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups), fronds reserved
3 crisp apples such as Fuji or Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup dried cranberries, preferably organic
1/2 cup (4 ounces) finely minced pancetta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped reserved fennel fronds or fennel pollen
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F.
2. Place the squash, fennel, apples, cranberries, and pancetta, if using, on a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Place the olive oil and maple syrup in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.
4. Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the thyme and fennel fronds, and season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Spread the mixture out. Do not crowd the vegetables as this will cause them to steam rather than brown—use two pans or cook in batches if necessary.
5. Roast the vegetables until they are lightly caramelized and tender, 30 to 45 minutes. As they are roasting, shake the baking sheet or stir the vegetables occasionally so they develop a crisp crust on each side.
6. Transfer the vegetables to a warmed platter and serve immediately.
7. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat over low heat or in a microwave before serving.