Really, this could easily be a side dish as well as a dip. It's a simple preparation of twice-baked butternut squash — roasted until it's buttery soft and scoopable, then blended with milk and plenty of nutty Parmesan and baked with a cheesy crust on top.
In fact, we've served it both ways. The first time we made it, we ate it as a dip with pita chips and friends. Later that night we warmed up the leftovers, alongside some roasted vegetables, for a late-working husband.
This dish is very similar to Faith's delicata squash and Gruyère dip, only it's stuck back in the oven to develop a thin crust on top. The butternut squash makes the color perfect for this month (Halloween party, anyone?), and, while we liked the taste of Parmesan, any salty, hard cheese would work.
Butternut Squash and Parmesan Dip
Serves 6 as an appetizer
medium butternut squash, halved and seeded
fresh thyme, divided
grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Rub each half of the squash, inside and out, with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet, with one sprig of thyme tucked into the cavity of each half. Roast until a fork poked into the non-hollow end of the squash slides in easily, about 45 minutes. Let it sit until the squash is cool enough to handle.
Scoop out the flesh of the squash halves and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese, the leaves from the remaining thyme sprig, nutmeg, and salt. Pulse until blended, then pour in the milk while the machine is running.
Transfer mixture to a small 8-inch baking dish or a shallow pie plate. Sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
Set the oven to broil, and continue cooking until lightly browned on top, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.