Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's book, Entree to Judaism for Families, which is filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence through clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

This recipe may not be a traditional Jewish dish, but I created it in a way that my ancestors in Lithuania and Poland would have done. Shabbat, holidays, and weddings all inspired cooks to transform their basic food into something more elaborate. In Eastern Europe, squash, apples, and onions were stored all winter in cold home cellars. Adding an onion to a recipe was a normal occurrence. But adding an apple with its sweetness elevated the dish to something special.

Butternut squash is an ideal winter vegetable because it ripens in early fall, but its hard skin allows it to be stored and eaten all winter long. Here, I combine sweet and savory produce and seasonings to make a great side dish or even a main course served with pasta or a grain.

1 large onion
2 Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Jonagold apples
20 ounces pre-cut butternut squash (about 4–5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup toasted almond slivers or sunflower seeds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut the onion in half, and then slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper or foil (dull side up). Set aside.
  3. Using an apple corer/slicer, cut the apples into eighths, and then cut each wedge into 3 or 4 chunks. Add to the onions along with the squash cubes.
  4. Add the oil, thyme, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the baking sheet and toss well.
  5. Spread out in a single layer and bake for 30 minutes or until the onions are golden and the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  6. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, dried cranberries, and nuts (if using). Toss lightly and place in a serving dish.

Kitchen Conversations

  • How many colors are in this dish?
  • Which ingredients are fruits and which are vegetables?
  • Since you didn’t add sugar to the dish, what makes the onions and squash sweeter?
Additional Notes
  • Since some apples are very hard, placing your hands next to, or on top of the child’s hand while pressing down will be useful. But don’t press too hard on their little hands if the apple is very hard!
  • It is much safer to use an 8-inch chef’s knife with a child under six than a paring or utility knife. Standing behind the child and holding the knife with him or her instills confidence at the same time that you focus on safety.
  • Combining the cranberries and apples with the savory vegetables makes the dish more intriguing for young children and will promote eating a new, healthy vegetable.
  • This dish is perfect as a side dish for chicken or fish. However, serve this dish on top of quinoa or barley and you will have a nutritious vegetarian main dish.