Good Food: Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet + Spicy Pecans / by emily penn

This was one of my favorite easy dinners to make when I was in my early twenties. I roasted some squash, crumbled some goat cheese on top and sprinkled it with Trader Joe’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans. The combination of the crunchy nuts, creamy goat cheese and sweet butternut squash is SO GOOD.

I wanted to upgrade this recipe, though because I don’t really do dairy anymore and the Trader Joe’s nuts are made with… sugar and canola oil. So while the convenience is nice, I’d much rather make my own sweet and spicy nuts with ingredients I feel good about.

If you do dairy, go for goat cheese. If not, Kite Hill makes an almond milk ricotta that stands in nicely. However I must warn you, the flavor profile has gone down since I last tried it a year ago. It’s really pretty bland (which makes a nice blank canvas!) so I add salt and lemon juice to give it the same flavor profile as the goat cheese. There’s also lots of smaller non-dairy cheese brands, so check your local grocery store for something that might stand in well for goat cheese or ricotta.

This is still one of the most low key dinners and it’s a beautiful side dish for the holidays and upcoming gatherings. You can make the pecans ahead of time and you’ll likely have extras, so keep some on hand for a great little seasonal snack, to. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet + Spicy Pecans

Serves 2 people as an entree, 4-6 as a side
Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes / Total time 1 hour 30 minutes

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sweet + spicy pecans
1 ¼ cups pecans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
cayenne to taste (about ⅛ tsp for a subtle kick)

1 large butternut squash, cubed
2 tbsp avocado oil
generous salt + pepper

garnish with
crumbled cheese of choice (goat cheese or Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta)
chopped parsley
pomegranate seeds


  1. For the pecans - preheat oven to 275. Toss everything in a large bowl until the pecans are well-coated. Arrange the pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, just until pecans start to get a little dark. Allow to cool completely.

  2. For the squash - preheat oven to 400. Toss the cubed butternut squash with avocado oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, undisturbed.

  3. Remove the baking sheet after 30 minutes and increase the heat to 425. Give the butternut squash a stir. It should be starting to get golden.

  4. Roast for an additional 15 minutes, until the squash is golden and crispy on some edges.

  5. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to the dish(es) you’d like to serve it in.

  6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of pecans, your favorite cheese or non-dairy cheese, and any other toppings you’d like. Enjoy!