For an ambitious addition to your holiday feast, try my buttercup squash soufflé. The flavors are simple enough that you can serve it as an appetizer, plate it up with a small salad, or just present it to the crowd family style.

Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Buttercup Squash Soufflé
with aged balsamic, hazelnuts, and Parmesan

What you'll need:
2 buttercup squash (2 1/2 lbs.)
(I prefer buttercup for its creaminess, but you can substitute butternut squash)
1 egg yolk
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 egg whites
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 cup Parmesan, freshly shaved
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8-10 ceramic soufflé cups
1 baking pan (large enough to hold the soufflé cups)
parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Halve each squash through the stem to create 2 identical pieces. Coat each piece with olive oil and place face down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about an hour or until the flesh of the squash is completely soft. Allow to cool. (This step can be done a day in advance.)

3. Peel the cooled squash and dice the flesh. Place the skinless squash in a food processor and puree until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, combine the squash, whole eggs, egg yolk, mascarpone, salt, nutmeg and grated Parmesan. Stir until the mixture is completely combined and smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to medium or soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into squash mixture, taking care not to over mix and deflate the whites.

5. Spray soufflé cups with cooking spray. Carefully divide mixture into 8 to 10 ceramic soufflé cups (number of cups depends on the size of the squash), but don't fill the cup over halfway. Place filled cups in the baking pan and fill the pan with warm water, taking care not to drip any water in the filled cups. The water level should be about halfway up the cups. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly.

6. Place the soufflé upside down on plate and remove ceramic cup. It should pop out cleanly. Garnish with shaved Parmesan, aged balsamic and toasted hazelnuts.

7. Enjoy!