The must-try honeynut squash recipe with big flavor.
Known as the lovechild of the well-known butternut and buttercup squashes, the honeynut gleans a similar, yet enhanced flavor that rules the rows at farmers markets beginning each September. Most often halved and roasted, or blended into a soup, the honey in honeynut comes from its color and unmistakable sweetness—both of which scream fall.
Less than half the size of the butternut squash, the honeynut packs concentrated sweet flavor, an attribute that attracted the chefs at Cashiers, North Carolina’s High Hampton Resort. It was a few seasons back when sous chef Dan McCranie came across the squash while interning under executive chef Scott Franqueza during his time at at Blackberry Mountain.
McCranie sampled it in a dish with a ginger crumble that ignited the flavors. That same day, he tasted a romesco from the lunch menu. The two dishes inspired him to experiment with both concepts using the same ingredients. The result? A honeynut squash romesco to paint the plate on which a hanger steak and griddle cake are served.
“There are many times when people will ask for a side of the romesco to be sent out to the table,” says McCranie—a request they always oblige.
How to Cook Honeynut Squash at Home
For the home chef, Franqueza and McCranie recommend an oven-roasted intro to honeynut squash. An even dice, high-quality olive oil, rosemary, and—McCranie’s secret ingredient— ground ginger highlight all the sweet and savory flavors from the squash.
“You can totally toast those seeds and use them like you would pumpkin seeds,” Franqueza says. “Dry them out, season them up, bake them, and then you have a nice little snack.” He recommends a little curry seasoning before toasting them golden and sprinkling over a fall salad.
“It’s so versatile because it is a starch,” McCranie adds, so forget potatoes. Sub in diced honeynut squash for breakfast hashes or even a shakshuka. Franqueza is brainstorming for one with roasted brussels sprouts, diced honeynut squash, toasted honeynut seeds, and dried raisins or cranberries for a side dish that is fully fall.
1 red bell pepper, peeled and seeded
½ onion, peeled and chopped
1 honeynut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup of marcona almonds
Sherry vinegar, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white miso
1 garlic clove, minced
½ shallot, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Minced parsley to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup fresh corn kernels
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup kale chiffonade
½ cup buttermilk
Dash cayenne powder
Dash baking powder
Dash baking soda
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 hanger steaks
Freshly ground black pepper
Griddle corn cakes:
For the hanger steaks:
- Make the honeynut romesco: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a sheet pan, combine the red bell pepper, onion, tomato, and honeynut squash with olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven until caramelized and cooked, about.
- In a food processor or blender, blitz the roasted vegetables and marcona almonds until smooth, adding salt and sherry vinegar to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the miso chimichurri: Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Make the griddle cakes: In a pot, cook fresh corn kernels with ¼ cup of water until soft. Strain and let cool. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except garlic and butter with cooled kernels.
- Mix garlic and butter together. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add garlic butter. Once melted, add a few 1-ounce dollops of batter to pan. Cook on one side until bubbles form on top and bottom is browned. Flip cake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Set on wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Make the hanger steak: Generously cover surface of steaks with grapeseed oil and a mixture of freshly chopped garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Allow steaks to marinate in fridge between 2 hours and overnight.
- Heat grill to high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper and grill, flipping once, until they reach desired temperature (120 to 125 degrees for medium rare). Rest steaks for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Assemble: Place a generous smear of honeynut romesco onto plate. Top with 3 griddle cakes and sliced hanger steak. Finish with miso chimichurri.
Recipe BySous chef Dan McCraine and executive chef Scott Franqueza of High Hampton Resort, Cashiers, North Carolina