Holiday Eats: Coffee Squash

Coffee squash? Squash coffee? No matter how you mash it, the combo sounds a little weird. Stick with us on this one, friends, we’ve got places to go and butternut squash to eat. (By the way, the squash was procured fresh from the Newport Beach Farmers’ Market, which takes over the Newport Pier every Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

Here’s the deal: We love this recipe because it’s 1. Easy to make. 2. An unexpected duo of flavors that party like nobody’s business in your mouth. And 3. Ideal to bring as a side dish for a holiday hangout on the beach. Super elegant, super delicious, super healthy. Coffee squash is pretty much the trifecta of epicurean, fall/wintry perfection.

Also, feel free to make fun of our attempt at squash art with the photos that follow.

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(Serves 4)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 c. Koa coffee
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (we used Serrano Honey White Balsamic from Olive Oil & Beyond on Balboa Island but feel free to use whatever suits your balsamic vinegar predilections)
  • 2 dollops of Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary (also bought at the Newport Beach Farmer’s Market)
  • Optional: Reduced balsamic vinegar glaze (Trader Joe’s makes a pre-made balsamic reduction, which makes drizzling the stuff quite easy, but you can also easily make your own by heating balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan)
  • Also optional: Red chili flakes



Cut and peel the squash, removing the seeds and that stringy gunk inside. (Also, while you are cutting and de-gunking, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, please.)

The easiest way to cut it (we’ve found) is to do one cut across the middle, separating the bottom hump (technical term) from the elongated neck of the squash. Next, peel the top, long half and cut the bottom hump in half, lengthwise. This should make it easier to scoop out its insides, although peeling around those curves can get kind of tricky. You’ve got this; we believe in you.

squash coffee
Doesn’t this look like modern art? Maybe something to hang in a community museum for a two-day, weekend exhibit that ends early Sunday morning? Agreed.

After your squash is all buttery smooth, cut the squash into tiny squares, about half an inch in length. You want the pieces to be as evenly cut and uniform as possible. Pieces that are chopped evenly will also cook evenly in the oven, otherwise if you’ve got all different sized pieces, some might burn while others are only half-baked.

coffee squash
We did an OK to above-average job cutting it evenly, right?

Once the squash is cut, place it in a mixing bowl. Now here’s where things get fun. Pour your coffee over the squash. We used single-estate Koa coffee for this recipe; the flavor is pure and bold, without the least hint of bitterness, which you don’t want for the squash. It’s probably because the Koa team picks bean by hand on the estate in Kona, HI, harvesting the beans only when they’re cherry red. (Mechanical harvesting sometimes means bitter green beans get into the mix.) Taste of Aloha, indeed.

Koa Coffee poured directly over our squash.

Regretfully, we spilled a little coffee as we were pouring but not regretfully, the spill kind of looked artsy. Here it is for reference …

Coffee art, anyone?

Anyway, after the coffee is poured, add the vinegar to the squash. Be sure your squash soaks for a few minutes in the coffee and vinegar then transfer the squash to a sheet pan. It’s OK if there’s some extra liquid at the bottom of the bowl after the squash departs its silvery confines; we’ll use that liquid later.

Next, drizzle maple syrup over the squash, along with the rest of the coffee-vinegar liquid from the bowl. (If there’s a ton left, just use some of it.) Sprinkle salt and pepper, to taste and place the sheet pan in the oven. Let the squash cook for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. When the squash is finished, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with half of your chopped rosemary. (This is when you’d also add those optional red chili flakes for a kick of slow heat.) Finally, top with the dollops of Greek yogurt, sprinkle the remainder of your chopped rosemary and if you so choose, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar glaze , which will make it look pretty. Final step? ENJOY!