Last year was my first expat thanksgiving. There was a bit of sadness as November approach, as I thought about missing out on all the turkey, potatoes, pies, stuffing and tradition. My friends in Amsterdam were mostly European or Asian, so they didn’t celebrate or even know what it was in some cases. My explanation was simple. It’s about the food! And, also, spending time with friends and family, while you enjoy the FOOD!
Luckily, one of my only two American friends in Amsterdam invited us over for Thanksgiving at this home. He was an American vegetarian married to an Italian meat-fanatic who had never cooked a turkey before. We were definitely in store for an interesting holiday. They had all the usual suspects: stuffing, big big turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole. It was all amazing. Oh my! Like home, but with a slight Euro twang to it.
We were also joined by more friends from Portugal, the Netherlands and Sweden. We (the Americans) were severely outnumbered. I was unsure of how they were going to respond to our dishes, but they fell in love. The Dutch girl (who wasn’t particularly fond of me because I was a) American and b) from Texas) was particularly smitten with the green bean casserole. It was food colonization. Mwahahaha!
I helped out with brining the turkey, and brought along the token apple pie and some marinated butternut squash. The squash was a newly discovered recipe, and much different than the typical cinnamon-laced preparations. Roasted butternut squash soaks up a marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, red chile and onion.
If you’ve got a bottle of really good extra virgin olive oil collecting dust in your pantry waiting for a ‘special occasion’, this is the time to use it. Fruity olive oil works well with the buttery squash. In the spirit of locality, this year I used California Olive Ranch’s Arbequina Extra Virgin. It is candy.
Marinated Butternut Squash Recipe
adapted from Mario Batali
2 medium butternut squash, de-seeded and cut into 1″ slices
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff if you have it)
1/2 medium red onion, sliced very thin
1 tsp red chile flakes (reduce if you don’t fancy the heat)
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 c fresh mint, loosely packed, coarsely chopped or torn
Preheat oven to 450F (232C) Toss sliced butternut squash with 4 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash on baking sheet in one layer and bake for 18-20m until fork tender.
While squash is baking, whisk together remaining ingredients except for the mint. Transfer cooked squash to serving platter or bowl, and pour marinade over. Let cool. Toss with fresh mint when ready to serve.
This can be made earlier in the day, just don’t refrigerate it! It’s perfect at room temp. I prefer to make it early, so the squash can soak up all the marinade-y goodness. And yes, marinade-y is not a word, but you got the point, didn’t you.