Roasted Squash with Mole Almendrado

In this vegetarian main course, a quick, velvety weeknight-friendly mole is made with dried ancho chiles and toasted almonds, then served with tender kabocha squash.

Roasted Squash with Mole Almendrado

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
6 servings

This mole almendrado (almond mole), made with rehydrated ancho chiles, spices, and Medjool dates, makes for a dreamy dish without the fuss or time commitment you might associate with mole. Paola Briseño-González shows off the beautiful floral flavor of toasted almonds in this weeknight-friendly sauce, which pairs really well with sweet kabocha squash. “The dish is also easily adaptable,” Briseño-González says. “You can swap the squash for poached chicken or grilled fish; the latter option reminds me of trout almondine, but warmed up with chiles, and draped in that velvety sauce that begs to be sopped up with tortillas.”


  • 3 large (about 3 1/2-ounce) plum tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped white onion (from 1 small [8-ounce] onion)

  • 2 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

  • 2 ancho chiles (about 1 ounce), stemmed and seeded

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick

  • 4 pitted Medjool dates (about 2 1/4 ounces) 

  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth, divided

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 3 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 medium (2 1/2-pound) kabocha squash (unpeeled), seeded and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges

  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

  • Flaky sea salt, to taste

  • Cooked beluga lentils or black lentils


  1. Cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a cast-iron skillet or on a comal over medium, flipping a few times using tongs, until vegetables are blackened in spots and tomatoes start to burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let steam 5 minutes. Uncover bowl, and remove and discard peels from garlic. Transfer tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves to a blender.

  2. While vegetables are steaming, cook almonds, chiles, cloves, and cinnamon stick in skillet over low, stirring often, until almonds are golden brown and chiles start to puff when pressed, about 3 minutes. Transfer chiles and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan. Add almonds and cloves to tomato mixture in blender.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Add dates and broth to saucepan with chiles, and bring to a boil over high. Remove from heat; cover and let stand until chiles and dates are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Transfer broth mixture to tomato mixture in blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening; process until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Set mole aside.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-low. Stir in mole and 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and bring to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to low; partially cover, and simmer, stirring often, until consistency is similar to heavy cream and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. If mole is too thick, add up to 1/4 cup broth to reach desired consistency. Cover and keep warm over low.

  5. While mole simmers, spread squash in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet; drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Roast in preheated oven until squash is lightly golden on both sides and tender when pierced with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through roasting time. Remove squash from oven, and set aside.

  6. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vinegar, maple syrup, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt until combined; drizzle evenly over roasted squash on baking sheet.

  7. Pour about 1/3 cup mole on each of 6 plates; top evenly with roasted squash wedges, drizzling any remaining buttermilk mixture from baking sheet over squash. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt to taste. Serve with warm cooked lentils.

To Make Ahead

The mole can be made up to 2 days in advance. Reheat over low, and add vegetable broth if needed to thin to desired consistency.

Suggested Pairing

Rich, nutty aged white: R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Viña Gravonia Blanco

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