Let’s talk butternut squash.
As someone who isn’t a huge fan of fall, I try to focus on the things I do like. This, fellow food lovers, is one of them. Every year when the winter squashes come into season, I have to have two things: stuffed acorn squash and some kind of recipe featuring roasted butternut squash.
Because roasting vegetables is magical. If you’ve ever done it (and I really hope you have), you know what I’m talking about. The sugars start to caramelize, the vegetables get soft and start to brown and your entire house smells like a little slice of foodie heaven.
Fall is the best time to roast seasonal veggies, in my opinion. While I do love summer squashes, tomatoes, peppers and other light fare roasted in the summer, fall and winter bring starchy veggies in abundance. These are the ones that really get sweet when roasted–things like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips and, of course, squash.
Winter squashes in general have a good nutritional profile. They’re high in carotene precursors to vitamin A and are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and copper. Carotenes and vitamin C both have high levels of antioxidant activity, helping to protect your body from the free radicals that are produced every day from normal metabolic processes–plus the ones that form as a result of exposure to chemicals. stress and less-than-optimal food.
Eating winter squash even gets you a bit of the omega-3 fat ALA. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, you get about 340 milligrams of ALA in one cup of baked squash. It’s still a low-fat food, though, and has a lot of fiber.
…When described it that way, it doesn’t sound so delicious, does it? But anyone who’s enjoyed a baked butternut squash, a bowl of butternut squash soup or sweet cubes of roasted butternut goodness knows that it’s one of those good-for-you foods with amazing flavor.
So what, you ask, does any of this have to do with the recipe in this post? Why, it features roasted butternut squash, of course! There’s also a great deal of cabbage, another fall veggie that I happen to be quite fond of. Both are abundant at farmer’s markets this time of year and keep well, so don’t hesitate to stock up if you find a good price!
The prep for this recipe is fairly simple. After cubing up the squash and popping it in the oven, you spend a little time browning some onions and cooking the cabbage down in a skillet. Once the squash is done, it gets added to the mix with a sauce of crushed tomatoes and a few chickpeas, because we vegans love our chickpeas! Finish it all off with a bit of fresh thyme and plop it on top of a bed of red quinoa (or white, or tri-color), and you’ve got yourself a nourishing meal with a mix of fabulous fall flavors.
- 1 large butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 4 cups green cabbage, sliced/shredded
- 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1½ cups cooked or 1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned
- 2Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the butternut squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. It's done when the chunks are starting to brown and can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit on the burner for 15 minutes more. Remove and set aside.
- Place the onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add a little water to the pan if necessary to keep them from sticking, but use as little as possible to ensure optimal browning. Add the cabbage and another splash of water and cook for about 5 more minutes.
- When the squash is done roasting, add it to the pan along with the crushed tomatoes, chickpeas, and thyme. Cook until heated through. Serve over the quinoa.
It doesn’t look terribly pretty, but gosh darn it, it tastes great.
Squash, winter (n.d.). World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved from http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63