Turmeric-Roasted Squash With Caramelized Dates and Spicy Nuts

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 8
Chile-spiced hazelnuts and turmeric add piquancy to hearty winter squash roasted with sweet dates and lemon slices.
(Jennifer Chong/For The Times, Prop styling: Dorothy Hoover.)
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This deeply caramelized and warm squash dish is a modern update on the typical sweet potato/pumpkin dish. Here, tender but dense chunks of squash are roasted in spicy turmeric oil alongside sweet, chewy dates and bright slices of lemon. The whole affair is drizzled with toasted hazelnuts, bathed in honey and chile flakes, just before serving to add lots of vibrant and bold flavors to the hearty squash. Red- or orange-fleshed squashes like red kuri and kabocha work best here because their skin is edible, but you can also use peeled butternut squash or sugar pumpkin.


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup olive oil and the turmeric.


Remove the stem from the squash, then cut in half and scrape out and discard the innards and seeds. Cut the squash halves into large, 4-inch-ish pieces and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the turmeric oil over the squash, rub each piece to ensure it’s coated in the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, place the dates and lemon slices in a medium bowl and pour in the remaining turmeric oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to ensure each piece is coated in the oil.


Flip the squash pieces over, then scatter the date halves and lemon slices around the squash. Continue roasting until the squash is golden brown in spots and a paring knife easily slides in and out of the thickest pieces and the dates and lemons slices are lightly caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes.


Once the squash comes out of the oven, make the spicy nuts: Heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and the hazelnuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Once the nuts start sizzling and bubbling, set a timer and cook the nuts, stirring often, until they become very toasty and slightly darkened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately stir in the honey and chile flakes. Season the nuts with salt.


Arrange the squash, dates and lemon slices on a platter and spoon over the spicy hazelnuts while still hot. Sprinkle with more chile flakes, if desired, before serving.

Make Ahead:
The spicy nuts can be made up to 3 days in advance. Rewarm over medium heat until beginning to bubble before using.