Every season holds such joys of cooking for me but, if I am honest, fall and winter cooking is my favorite time to spend in the kitchen as it is the only two seasons that I don’t eat a largely raw diet. I load up on nice juicy vegetables in the summer but oh, do I ever love my root vegetables and squash. I don’t shy away from the carbs in potatoes (nor do I urge my clients who have no sensitivity to nightshades), eat sweet potatoes as often as I can, pureé pumpkin like mad for soups and pies, but I think my favorite gourd of the moment is butternut squash.
It is easy to peel, hard to chop, even harder to clean, but it takes to sweet and savory flavors equally. It is versatile enough to bake with garlic and thyme and served with EVOO for an elegant side dish, or with cinnamon, ghee and brown sugar as dessert. It is marvelous chopped up into soups! It loses yet retains its gentle sweetness, never goes completely “mushy” unless you forcibly will it to with a stick blender. It provides a unique complexity as a backdrop to many a recipe. Because of its fiber content, it does not need a grain companion either making eating grain-free simple, delicious, and healthy.
I made this dish the other night to the delight of my guests and they were amazed and delighted though none of them had ever eaten butternut squash in their lives. HOW that is possible because the ones I buy are grown in Lebanon, I am not sure but they hadn’t. A few of them were disconcerted that there was something orange in their soup but they hushed up the moment they tasted it. In fact, I have never seen so many quiet Lebanese at a table.
This doesn’t qualify as “fast food” because it does take 40 minutes to simmer, however, it is really easy to prepare and you could pre-chop the veggies and toss it together for dinner.
The nutritional value of avocado is amazing being rich in vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folate, B6 and vitamin C. The oleic acid within this fruit promotes heart health and increases your absorption of other nutrients.
Black beans are a good source of molybdenum, folate and fibre and a range of other nutrients. They are a good choice for vegans, as a good source of iron and protein. The fibre is excellent for managing blood sugar and are a very high quality protein. They also detoxify sulphates, a type of food preservative that some people react to if they’re low in molybdenum.
Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida. It is high in heart healthy carotenoids as well.
- 1 butternut squash (chopped)
- 2 bell peppers (chopped)
- 1 Medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 4-6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 3 Large tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 green chillis (chopped)
- 3 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not vegan)
- 1 can BPA-free black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 can BPA-free cannelini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 tablespoon celtic sea salt (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 red onion (chopped)
- 1 handful fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 cup black olives (sliced)
- 1 lime (wedged)
- Drizzle grapeseed or coconut oil into the bottom of a heavy stock pot. Add onions and saute until soft and fragrant. Add in garlic, peppers, chilis and celery and allow to soften but do not brown. (about 2 minutes)
- Toss in butternut squash and spice mix with salt and stir until vegetables are coated lightly.
- Add tomatoes, stir and allow to cook another minute before adding in wine.
- Add wine, if using and allow to boil with mixture about a minute. Pour in stock. If not using wine, add another cup of stock and a few splashes of red wine or apple cider vinegar.
- Allow to simmer about 30-45 minutes, until squash is fork tender.
- Top with onion, avocado, olives, or, if not vegetarian, shredded chicken and cheese. Sprinkle a wedge of lime and enjoy.
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