Home-cooked meals are truly one of life’s simplest joys. But when you’re left to prepare your own meals, it becomes quite a chore—especially if you can’t live up to your own standards. So we resort to eating out. A great meal you wouldn’t otherwise make for yourself, plus not having to wash dishes? Sounds like a win-win. However, Alison Roman, a bi-weekly columnist for New York Times Cooking and a monthly contributor to Bon Appétit Magazine, argues that dining in needn’t be intimidating.
In her cookbook “Dining In,” Alison presents “highly cookable recipes,” which she developed under her so-called personal “lo-fi” (low-maintenance) cooking style. No fancy equipment, obscure ingredients, or chef-level skills needed. She promises effortless home-cooking resulting in ultra-flavorful restaurant-level meals.
You’ll easily find all these in a supermarket, so boohoo, you have no excuse.
These recipes are all about building flavor and saving time… With Alison Roman, dining in brings you just as much joy as eating out.
Our photographer Jerome scanned through the cookbook, and was hooked by its veggie-forward nature. He enjoys eating vegetables; and lately, he’s been into roasting them. So when he chanced upon the recipe for Caramelized Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata—which had a beautiful photo, by the way—it was an easy decision to make it.
Jerome describes his cooking experience as “madali.” Sourcing the ingredients was straightforward, for the most part. Instead of a whole squash, he got a piece, which is what is typically sold in the grocery. He only had a bit of trouble looking for the coconut flakes. He bought his from a store in Binondo, but it should be available in some supermarkets (e.g. Landmark).
Go squash ’em, Jerome!
He had no trouble following the instructions. That said, he did have a hard time slicing the squash. But that was really because it was his first time to do so. The piece he got was big, making it tricky to handle. He also admits he put too much chili, but we quite liked it with the added heat.
The resulting dish was delicious. The honey-tossed roasted squash was a delight on its own; but we have to say, the toasted coconut gremolata really stole the show. We’ll bet even the coconut-averse will love it. We suggest making more of that stuff, and throwing it into whatever roasted vegetable, fruit, or even meat you have.
Caramelized Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata
From Dining In, a cookbook by Alison Roman
Serves: 4 people
Active time: 20 mins
Total time: 50 mins
2 medium winter squash, such as delicata or acorn (1 ½ to 2 lbs)
3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted, or olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted Coconut Gremolata
3⁄4 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
½ cup fresh cilantro, tender leaves and stems, finely chopped
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Leaving the skin on, slice the squash into ½-inch-thick rings. ([You can roast the squash] with the seeds still inside, because they get all crispy and [Alison loves] the texture they bring to the table, but you can remove them if you like. Best way to do that is cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then slice into rings.)
Toss the squash with the coconut oil and honey on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping the squash once, until it is completely tender, browned, and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the coconut. Shake the skillet occasionally until the coconut is staring to brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Place it in a medium bowl to cool completely.
Once the coconut has cooled, add the chives, cilantro, lemon zest, and Aleppo pepper, and season with salt. Using your fingers, mix this together until the oils in the lemon zest have released and everything is evenly distributed (especially the lemon zest, which can stubbornly clump up).
Sprinkle the coconut gremolata over the roasted squash and serve.