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You could argue that winter squashes like acorn, butternut and buttercup already are so sweet and creamy they don't really need any adornment.

And most days of the week that's fine. But for a fancy winter dinner, why not push it to the max?

So in this recipe, simmered, golden chunks of acorn squash are dressed with butter that has been browned until it has an almost nutty flavor. The dish then is infused with crispy bits of fried sage leaves, which have a mellow, savory flavor.

To make this dish easy to prepare at dinnertime, cook the squash ahead of time, then reheat it in the sage-infused brown butter just before serving. And note that when peeling acorn squash, it is important to peel deeply enough to remove the tough veins.

>Acorn Squash with Browned Butter and Fried Sage Leaves

5 1/2 pounds acorn squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

5 tablespoons butter

16 large fresh sage leaves

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the squash and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then return the squash to the pot, cover and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the sage leaves.

As the butter browns, fry the sage leaves on both sides (turning them as needed) until crispy, skimming any solids off the butter as needed, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the sage leaves to a paper towel to drain. Set aside.

Coarsely chop half of the sage leaves and add, along with the browned butter, to the reserved squash. Stir over medium heat until the squash is well coated with butter and heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the squash garnished with the reserved whole fried sage leaves. Servings: 8

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 191 calories; 67 calories from fat (35 percent of total calories); 8g fat (5g saturated; no trans fats); 19mg cholesterol; 33g carbohydrate; 3g protein; 5g fiber; 130mg sodium.