Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Vanilla
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeds removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping cup of walnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the cubed squash with a little olive oil and spread out onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and roast until the cubes begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
Put 4 cups of water into a medium-sized pot and add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Add the squash to the pot. Boil, covered for 10 minutes. Drain.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and toast the walnuts. Stir frequently or they will burn. Once they they start to brown, and you can smell the aroma of toasted walnuts, remove from heat.
Melt the butter in the pan with the walnuts over medium-high heat. Toss the walnuts to coat with butter, then add the squash. Toss them to coat with butter. Add the grated ginger, vanilla extract, black pepper, a little salt and dried thyme and toss once more. Turn off the heat and squeeze some lemon juice over everything. Taste for salt and lemon and add more to taste. If you want this to be a bit more luxurious, mix in another tablespoon of butter or two before serving.