- 1 medium to large butternut squash
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp finely chopped marjoram
- Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 425°F
Adjust the oven rack to the top third position.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard.
Remove the tough outer skin as well as the thin whitish layer beneath it. Try using a vegetable peeler to complete this task. Once done, the orange flesh should be completely exposed.
On the roasting pan, place both squash halves cut side down.
Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the squash is in the oven, combine the maple syrup, orange juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard, chopped herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well with a small whisk until completely combined.
Remove from the oven and let the squash cool until you can safely handle it with your bare hands. This roughly takes about 5-10 minutes.
Move one squash half to a cutting board and place the handle of a wooden spoon (or other wooden utensil) on either side of the squash. The wooden tools will serve as guards to prevent the blade from going all the way as you slice through the squash.
Grab a sharp knife and carefully cut very thin slits in the squash, starting at the narrow end. DO NOT cut all the way through the squash. Return the sliced squash to the baking sheet and repeat with the second half.
Coat the squash halves with about 1/3 of the syrup mixture by brushing the mixture over the squash halves, paying special attention to getting the mixture down in between the slits.
Add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and return to oven for 15 minutes.
While in the oven, constantly check on the squash to ensure that the syrup at the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Remember, if needed, you can always add a small amounts of water, a few tablespoons at a time. Make sure not to add too much water.
After 15 minutes, remove the squash from the oven and brush with more of the syrup mixture. Also, brush with some of the liquid at the bottom of the pan (pan juice) to boost this dish’s flavor and color.
Add another 1/4 cup water to bottom of the pan and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven and brush with some of the pan juices.
If you would like to add the chopped pecans, now is the time. Add them to the remaining syrup glaze and stir to combine. Spoon the pecan syrup glaze mixture over the top of the squash, dividing it equally between both halves.
Add another 1/4 cup water to bottom of the roasting pan and return it to the oven for the last 5 minutes, or until the squash is golden and tender.
Remove from oven; spoon some of the pan juices over the squash, sprinkle with a little bit of fresh herbs and a pinch of salt.
Move your masterpiece carefully over to a serving plate and ENJOY.
This dish is sure to wow your family and friends so don’t be surprised when they are taking pictures and coming back for seconds ! This recipe was greatly inspired by The Healthy Foodie’s Honey Glazed Hasselback Butternut Squash.
The weather is warming up and there is still time to get your gardens prepared. The average date of the last freeze in North Texas is the third week in March so now is the time to get started. I’ve followed Neil Sperry for many years for his expert advice on gardening and so much more on his weekly radio show . I ran across this great online guide titled “Everything you need to know to plant a successful vegetable garden here in North Texas”.
He includes are some very informative tips, check it out.
Provide perfect drainage. No vegetable crop grows well in waterlogged soil.
Start small. Too many gardeners are overly ambitious at the outset, only to become discouraged by their poor results when they can’t maintain all the space they’ve opened up. Choose only crops your family really likes, then specialize in those. You can always expand the second time through, but if you fail you may never come back.
Prepare the soil carefully. Organic matter is your key to success. Add 5 or 6 inches of a blend of sphagnum peat moss, compost, well-rotted manure, finely ground bark mulch and other organic matter and rototill to a depth of 12 inches.
Know the proper planting time for each crop that you’re growing. This is a really big issue! Every crop has a two- or three-week window in which it must be planted. If planted too early it may not survive the cold weather. If planted too late it may not mature before heat sets in. This is one of the main places where people set themselves up to fail.
Here are some of the main crops and their timing. Late January: English peas, asparagus (perennial), onions. Mid-February: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Irish potatoes. Late February, early March: leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes, carrots, turnips, beets. Late March, very early April: beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, cucumbers. Mid-April into early May: sweet potatoes, okra, southern peas.
Choose the best varieties of each crop that you grow. Texas A&M vegetable specialists have lists online. In many cases they will be hybrids selected for productivity, yield, flavor and pest resistance. Many of the old heirloom varieties, tomatoes for example, are notoriously poor producers in Texas conditions. Limit the numbers of those that you try.
Care for your plants regularly. Check them daily once they start growing
Harvest your produce at the peak of maturity. In many cases, that will be before it reaches full size. Cucumbers, okra and summer squash, for example, should be harvested when they’re little more than half their full size. The same goes for carrots, green beans and lettuce leaves, and you harvest broccoli before any of the flower buds actually start to open.
Extend the season by planting fall crops in the same ground. Truth be told, fall vegetable gardens are often more productive than their spring counterparts.
Involve a youngster in your gardening plans. Whether it’s a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or students at a school in your neighborhood, there’s something magical about helping little hands plant big seeds and guiding them in growing vegetables all the way to harvest. It’s something neither you nor they will ever forget.
Did you know that Swiss chard is known for being one of the most nutritious vegetables in the world? Now that’s definitely a good reason to think about adding Swiss chard to your diet.
Growing up, we had a lot of different types of leafy green vegetables in our family garden including mustard, collard and turnip greens, and a variety of different types of lettuces. I can remember eating salads that included everything that came from our garden (the soft butter lettuce, the tomatoes, the onions, the cucumbers, the radishes, a couple of different kinds of parsley, fresh dill, rosemary, garlic, different types of mints).
However, I have to admit that I don’t remember seeing Swiss chard growing in our garden. Since becoming a chef, my culinary palate has really expanded and Swiss chard is now something that I grow in my own garden. It’s super easy to grow.
I picked a nice bunch of Swiss chard from my Fall garden and mixed it with a small bunch of rainbow chard.
The best Swiss chard I have ever seen growing was in my friend Cory Russell’s garden. Fresh From the Gardens featured Cory’s Fall Garden in one of our gardening videos. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out. It includes some really good gardening tips.
Tip: You can also substitute azomite for the micro nutrient mix mentioned in the video. Axomite includes natural trace minerals for your soil. It’s not something you’ll probably easily find but if you google where to purchase azomite in your location, you should get a list of locations.
Here’s a link for Texas locations to purchase axomite and to Garden Variety Organics which is where I purchased a bag of azomite. I am experimenting with the gardening method mentioned in my video and having great success. My dad also uses something similar in his garden.
If you head out to Garden Variety Organics in Waxahachie, TX, make sure you use your GPS!
You’re probably wondering how to prepare Swiss chard so I’ve included a few recipe links below. I’ve tried Swiss chard a lot of different ways, and one my favorite ways to eat Swiss chard is to caramelize onions, toss the Swiss chard with the onions and finish it with a dash of sherry vinegar or red wine is also good. It really does make a great side dish and pairs well with baked fish.
What to Look For:
You’ll typically find three types of chard in your grocer or farmer’s market. Look for crisp, vibrant green leaves with no yellow or brown marks.
- Rainbow chard has colorful red, pink, yellow, or white stalks
- Fordhook Giant is identifiable by crinkly leaves and thick, white, tender stalks
- Ruby Red (or Rhubarb) chard has thin, red stalks and slightly stronger flavors
How to Store:
Rinse Swiss chard mildly and store in moistened paper towels in a plastic bag (with a few pinholes to allow air to circulate) in the refrigerator for two or three days.
Swiss Chard Recipes:
Health Benefits of Swiss Chard
Just one cup of Swiss chard provides over 700% of our daily needs for vitamin K and over 200% of daily vitamin A. Swiss chard contains high levels nitrates, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance.