Roasted Winter Squash with Rosemary


I am a wimp when it comes to being cold, being wet, and especially both at the same time. Before my first visit to Guatemala my impression was that, because it was further south than Texas and Florida which are notoriously warm, it would be insanely hot — as the tropics should be, right?. My first summer here I brought all my favorite skirts, shorts, tank tops….but only one pair of jeans and one sweater. That was dumb. I obviously didn’t research, or even ask the simple question “what is the weather like”. So I was pretty chilly in those skirts. I believe they only made an appearance the first week or two, after I finally realized I looked ridiculous covered in goosebumps. Initially I was like a teenage girl, dying to wear her new spring clothes that she bought all the way back in February, and come April there is still snow on the ground, but by-golly its spring time so shes gonna wear her spring clothes, dangit! The weather won out, and I wore those poor jeans thin in the seat. Two months in I bought a cheap pair from the market because I feared one day playing rough with the children they might just split down the back.

Anyway, my point is that Guate isn’t so tropical as it is mild. It does get very hot in March and April, but when the rains begin in May it cools off a bit although there will still be days when it is hot and humid. In the middle of the rainy season there is a canicula, or a few week respite from the summer showers. But the rain can continue through October, even the beginning of November. Once November hits it actually gets cold. I remember the night Héc’s mom called telling us to bundle up, that the cold had arrived. I don’t know if it was the look in the clouds, or the feel of the wind, but she has an intuition like no other. And sure enough the rains blew away and the cold settled in. “What!” I thought. “Cold?!” Now it’s not Chicago winter by any means, but it can get down to 40ºF at night where we live up in the hills. And the homes don’t have central heat or even insulation, and the windows are vented and don’t entirely seal, so there is a draft. Sometimes inside out apartment it is colder than outside, so inside the house I’ll use my hat, scarf, and gloves (with tips cut off so I can write and cook, ect). It was a shock.

But this year I’m feeling strong. It’s almost September, and the rain has barely touched us. We’re in the middle of a drought for sure, and I actually feel myself missing the rain. And when the days gets above 75º I complain that it’s too hot, and the chilly evenings I find refreshing. This is not typical Sarah behavior. I think this winter I’ll be ok. I honestly believe it.


But even if I’m not strong this year, you know what makes those freezing winter nights bearable? Comfort food. A nice vegetarian chili with cornbread; hot chocolate; warm oatmeal. One of my all time favorite comfort foods is baked squash. My mom made this delicious butternut squash with gorgonzola cheese crumbled on top. It was heavenly. Eating a big warm bowl of it, with the rich flavors of the squash, olive oil, herbs, and cheese, fill you belly and send a surge of warmth throughout your limbs.

I haven’t seen butternut squash here in Guate, but there is güicoy (pictured above). I find it very similar to an acorn squash in flavor, but it really serves the purpose of either. The problem is that they are huge, so when we buy one we will eat it all week long. But it is so versatile. Sweet, savory, soups, casseroles. You can do a lot. But this is one of my all time favorite preparations, especially for the winter months. While it is still quite warm here and this dish isn’t exactly a summer food, I’ve been dreaming of the first chilly day, and we had the squash. So I made it anyway. But! Yesterday we got the first hard rain I can remember since May, and it didn’t reach above 70ºF the entire day. Today its hot and humid again. Anyway, even if its not appropriate for the season I see it as preparation: slowly building my repertoire of warming comfort foods for those day I just might not be able to bear it (although I still think I’m gonna be strong!)

This recipe combines winter squash diced into 1/2″ cubes, fresh chopped rosemary – my favorite herb, sliced red onion, plenty of olive oil for a rich taste, and fresh parmesan cheese. Next time I think I will use gorogonzola or goat cheese. I think the textures combine more pleasantly.

Roasted Winter Squash with Rosemary:

One medium acorn squash (or small butternut)
1/2 red onion, thickly sliced
5 sprigs rosemary, coarsly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Large pinch of salt
Few turns of fresh cracked pepper
1/3 cup cheese (parmesan, gorgonzola, blue, ect).

Cube squash and place in bowl. Add onions, rosemary, salt, pepper, and toss. Coat with oil and toss. Place in glass baking dish, and bake for about 45 minutes – until squash is tender. Add cheese on top, and bake another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.


2 Responses

  1. “I remember the night Héc’s mom called telling us to bundle up, that the cold had arrived. I don’t know if it was the look in the clouds, or the feel of the wind, but she has an intuition like no other.”

    I’m pretty sure she was just watching the weather report 😉

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