Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. Oh sure, both turkey and tofurky (because: family vegetarians) are on our menu every Thanksgiving. But c’mon – the real fun is the sides. You can be adventurous with the sides. Be creative! Be unique! Be bold! Spike your sides with all the flavors loved by those whose legs are under your table. The Kellys are spice and heat lovers. After all, I come from southern Arizona and grew up on tacos and burros. For our extended family Thanksgiving feasts, my uncles would line up on the porch and have a jalepeno eating contest – we kids squealed with delight when their faces turned bright red and sweat poured off of them in buckets!
I decided a spicy spin on fall acorn squash was in order. This dish has warm fall flavors with a kick of heat: acorn squash, spicy mole with just a pinch of chocolate and crunchy pepitas.
The mole is super easy, and can be made up to a week ahead to help minimize last-minute holiday meal stress. Just soak the dried chiles – they will blend up to be very smooth in your sauce. Just a hint of chocolate goes a long way – you don’t want to be reminded of hot fudge sauce!
Mole sauce is traditionally made with chiles and nuts or seeds as thickeners. Here I have simplified things by using almond butter to make the blending quick and smooth. I love both the flavor and texture of this simple sauce – rich and velvety with a hint of heat and spice.
I like to sprinkle pepitas over the top to add crunch – but you could use sliced almonds as well.
- 1 large acorn squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 guajillo or ancho ciles
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
- Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and strings. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Toss in oil and then spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until fork tender and lightly browned.
- While squash is roasting, chop the chiles and remove seeds and stem. In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the chiles, broth, onion. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, or until chiles are very soft.
- Add in all remaining ingredients and let simmer another 10 minutes. Cool to warm.
- Blend sauce in a blender and taste and season with salt and pepper.
Other bloggers do fabulous and flavorful roasted squash:
Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing, A Couple Cooks
Miso Roasted Acorn Squash, Half Baked Harvest
Agave Balsamic Roasted Squash, Kalyn’s KItchen