Peanut spice mix revitalizes dull Turkey Day side

New ingredient • Powdered peanut butter offers deep, rich flavor.
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On Thanksgiving, we tend to be pretty unimaginative when preparing butternut squash.

It's understandable. With all the attention given to buttery mashed potatoes, savory stuffing, doughy dinner rolls, tartly sweet cranberry sauce, and the all-important turkey and gravy, butternut (and other winter squashes) tends to suffer from afterthought syndrome.

Most people just steam and mash it, giving it the appearance — but not the appeal — of mashed potatoes. Others go for roasting, a method I generally favor. But roasting can be hit or miss depending on the quality of the squash and how well it caramelizes in the oven. Roasting also requires reasonably high heat, something hard to deliver when so many other foods are competing for oven time.

So I decided to devise a recipe that effortlessly delivers tons of flavor. The effortless part is key. Because while it's nice to talk about wanting to up the butternut ante, it's another to find the time to deliver it in the midst of making one of the year's most anticipated meals.

To get those results, I turned to a relatively new ingredient — powdered peanut butter. It came on the market several years ago, but only now is getting any attention. It is exactly as it sounds — peanut butter that has had nearly all of the fat extracted. The resulting fine powder has deep, rich peanut flavor, but can be used in ways conventional peanut butter cannot, such as in dry spice rubs.

The most common brand of powdered peanut butter is PB2. It's available in a variety of flavors —including chocolate. For most savory recipes, though, you'll want to stick with plain.

Mixed with a handful of seasonings, the powdered peanut butter creates a rich flavoring that works well not only with the natural sweetness of the squash, but also with the many other flavors and ingredients on the typical Thanksgiving table. The good news is that it's still as simple as chopping the squash, tossing it with the dry seasonings, then roasting. And since this recipe doesn't rely on caramelizing for its flavor, it can be done at 350 degrees, a temperature that will be agreeable to the many other dishes that need to get into the oven.

To find powdered peanut butter, check the natural foods aisle at the grocer. If you strike out, get online; it's widely available from web retailers. —

Spicy peanut roasted butternut squash

1 (5-pound) butternut squash, peeled and seeded

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup powdered peanut butter

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Cut the peeled and seeded squash into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle squash with olive oil, then toss to coat evenly.

In a small bowl, mix together powdered peanut butter, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Using a silicone spatula, toss the squash, while sprinkling the seasoning mixture over it. Continue to toss until all of the squash is well coated.

Transfer squash to prepared baking sheets, using the spatula to scrape the oil and seasonings from the bowl. Arrange the squash in an even layer. Roast 25 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the squash, then roast another 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender.

Servings • 8

Source: The Associated Press