I recently had a friend tell me she didn’t like Thanksgiving because of all of the casseroles. GASP!!! Or maybe you’re on her side (which is okay…I guess) but isn’t that why so many folks love Thanksgiving. It’s less about the turkey (though I do have an amazing turkey recipe) and really all about the rich, cheesy, buttery, sweet or savory baked casseroles or for more modern term, veggie sides. I know that’s why I love it. And it doesn’t have to be heart burn inducing. Most of my Thanksgiving Side Dishes are on the healthy side. I use bright and colorful veggies with nuts and a little less cheese and sugar than most. This recipe for Roasted Squash Casserole with Maple Nut Praline is a lighter and more modern take on the Sweet Potato Casserole that many of us grew up loving.
About the Recipe:
I transformed a Sweet Potato Casserole recipe from an old Country Living magazine that my friend picked up at a vintage shop. I made it with acorn squash because acorn squash is more nutty than other squashes which I thought would compliment the praline and also be a bit more conservative on the carb side compared with the potato counterpart. I flavored the dish with orange juice and zest, as well as maple syrup. There is still butter and brown sugar involved but almost half as much as the original recipe and believe me, it’s still sweet enough!
More Thanksgiving Sides to Love:
A more modern take on the Sweet Potato Casserole this time with Acorn Squash and a Maple Nut Praline.
- 3 large acorn squash (or 4 small)
- 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons), divided*
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, divided
- 1 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
- juice and zest of one orange
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I used a mixture of pecans, almonds, and walnuts)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds and stringy insides. Place squash cut side facing up on a rimmed baking sheet. Inside each squash half, place 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Sprinkle all of the squash with sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon total). Roast for 40 minutes or until tender.
- Let cool, then spoon out the squash (including the butter and maple syrup) into a bowl. Place squash in blender with orange juice and zest, eggs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, baking powder, and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, and the other half teaspoon of salt.
- Transfer the squash mixture to a greased 3-quart casserole dish. (At this point, the casserole can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine pecans, brown sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/8 teaspoon salt, the remaining butter (3 tablespoons) and 1 teaspoon vanilla and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes more, then pour over squash mixture. Bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Since several of the ingredients are used in both the squash mixture and the praline it's best to just keep the ingredients out and measure them out separately as you go. Though if you accidentally add a little extra butter or maple syrup I think you'll be okay 🙂