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I know I have a winner on my hands when the first taste of something horrifies my mouth – but subsequent tweaks and tastes cause me to salivate, eat too much, and wind up having to pour water over the bowl to cease the smorgasboarding. (sidebar: you don’t even want to know how many times I typed Smorgasburg instead of smorgasboard – I may have been living in Brooklyn too long)

Back to topic. This side is pretty great. The topping is sweet and salty and rich and a little crunchy – while the squash is a little sweet, soft and a touch velvety. The two play well nicely together.

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo-ish [miso is not strictly paleo (neither is rice wine vinegar for that matter), but as far as soy products go – fermented isn’t quite the devil that unfermented is. I will also love my rice wine vinegar forever, regardless of what the paleo police say]

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Miso Pepita Broiled Squash
Adapted from Broiled Spaghetti Squash with Walnut-Miso Glaze by Saveur

1 medium butternut squash
Coconut oil
1/2 c. pepitas
1/4 c. white miso
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Pinch red chili flakes
Pinch kosher salt

First, prep a baking sheet with tinfoil and set your oven to heat to 400 F.

Peel your squash with a vegetable peeler, cut into two easier-to-manage hunks, and cut into potato wedge looking sizes (scooping the guts from the bell end as you go). Lay on the prepped cookie sheet and drizzle a little coconut oil over. Toss well to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 30 minutes or until soft and just starting to brown a bit on the edges.

While your squash is baking, make the crumbly goodness.

Combine the pepitas, miso, maple syrup, vinegar, chili flakes & salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined and gravelly looking. Taste. The mixture should be weird but strangely delicious and addicting after the second taste or so.

If you need to cut the weirdness, adding a little more maple syrup would work; adding some “warmer” spices (like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice) may also help. I kept it weird.

When your squash is done, move your rack up and kick the oven on to broil.

Top your squash with the miso pepita mixture – I used the whole batch when I made it (mostly because I was already obsessed with the taste, but in hindsight this was a wise choice).

Broil 3 minutes or so, until the top is nice and crunchy and browned.

Serves 4 as a side.