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The Hasselback technique—a series of slight, narrow cuts, often used on potatoes—isn’t just for spuds. This Thanksgiving, try it out on hunks of butternut squash; this ultimate side dish—or even vegan centerpiece—is something the whole family can get on board with. 

The name’s origin is thanks to a restaurant in Sweden called Hasselbacken, where the technique was first employed. While this method looks visually appealing, it actually serves a very important purpose: The incisions allow all that flavor to penetrate throughout your chosen vessel—not just the exterior. In this recipe for maple Hasselback butternut squash—studded with fennel, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds—the squash gets drenched in a maple syrup and olive oil sauce.

Related Reading: New, Modern Twists on the Most-Searched Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

How to Hasselback

When it comes to Hasselback-ing (yes, we’re making it a verb), it’s crucial to not cut all the way through the squash. A good rule of thumb is to leave about half an inch at the base to keep the squash whole. It may look tricky to execute, but it’s actually easy to do if you just move slowly and carefully. 

Squash Swaps

Butternut squash is ideal for a show-stopping Hasselback presentation (thanks to that bright orange color), but this recipe could easily be made with other types of squash, like delicata, acorn, and kabocha. Just skip the Hasselback and shorten the roasting time depending on what squash you choose. 

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The Best Pomegranate Seed Hack

Pomegranate seeds add a brightness and texture to any dish—and they’re rich in antioxidants!—but it’s universally agreed upon that they’re kind of a pain to handle. Sure, you could buy tubs of the ready-to-eat seeds, but removing the seeds yourself saves on excess plastic, plus it’s more affordable. 

Here’s the easiest pomegranate hack: Quarter the pomegranate and submerge the pieces in a bowl of water, removing the seeds with your hands. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the pith rises to the top, making the process a whole lot easier.

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Maple Hasselback Butternut Squash Recipe

Fennel, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds round out the dish, making it the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and a little spicy. Oh, and it’s great for the ‘gram too! 

Maple Hasselback Butternut Squash

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Prep Time: 15 minutesCook Time: 1 hourServes: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. On a cutting board, rub the squash halves with olive oil on all sides, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the squash, cut side down, to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until a knife is easily inserted.
  3. Carefully remove the squash from the baking sheet and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the squash halfway down, making sure not to cut through the base, in ¼-inch incisions lines. Gently return back to the baking sheet, cut side down.
  4. In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Add 1½ tablespoons of the maple mixture to a bowl with the sliced fennel and toss to combine.
  6. Pour the remaining maple syrup mixture over the squash, making sure to pour it into the incisions. Spread the fennel around the squash on the baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, until the fennel starts to brown and the squash begins to caramelize on the bottom.
  7. Add the walnuts on top of the squash and fennel and roast for 5 more minutes.
  8. Serve topped with pomegranate seeds and flaky sea salt.

Header image courtesy of Alexis deBoschnek.

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