Butternut and acorn squash are two of the many reasons I celebrate autumn. When choosing squash, look for those with a deep-colored, blemish-free hard smooth skin. It should feel heavy for its size. Winter squash are a good source of iron, riboflavin, and vitamins A and C. Store winter squash in a cool dark area of the kitchen for up to a month.
Roasted butternut squash is delicious by itself or drizzled with a little maple syrup. But, coating the slices with a flavorful Middle Eastern pesto—the name is “zhoug”—elevates butternut squash to a new level. Once you taste zhoug, you’ll want to keep a jar of it in the refrigerator to use on a variety of fall vegetables or smear some on boneless chicken breasts before baking them.
Half of an acorn squash is an ideal dish to serve (I mean that literally) at your next meatless Monday. While the acorn squash are baking, you can sauté the vegetables for the stuffing. It’s a double winner because it is uncomplicated to make and heart healthy. Bon appétit!
Roasted Butternut Squash With Zhoug(Serves 6)1 large butternut squash, washedFor the zhoug:2 and 1/2 cups flat leaf parsley leaves, packed
1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper or more to taste
1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
About 1 cup waterTo prepare the zhoug: (can be done ahead)Working in a food processor fitted with the stainless steel blade, place all the ingredients in the bowl and chop until it is nearly smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Transfer the zhoug to a clean glass container, pour a thin film of olive oil on top to prevent browning, and refrigerate for up to two weeks. To roast the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. If using an organic squash there is no need to peel off the hard skin. Otherwise, it’s best to peel the squash.
Lay the cut-side down on a cutting board and slice the squash into approximately 3/4-inch-thick half circles.
Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl.
Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of zhoug and with your hands, toss until the squash is lightly coated.
Arrange the squash in a single layer on the prepared sheet and roast until crunch tender, about 20 minutes.Vegetable-Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash(Serves 4)2 medium acorn squash, washed, halved, and seeded
Oil as needed
For the vegetable stuffing:
About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 small zucchini, scrubbed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 small bell peppers, red, yellow, green, cored, seeded, and chopped
Chopped fresh herbs to taste—thyme, tarragon, flat leaf parsley or rosemary (about 1 to 2 tablespoons total)Optional: Lima beans, blanched
Green peas or edamame, blanched
1 large fresh tomato, seeded and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tasteTo prepare:Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly coat the bottom of an ovenproof dish with oil.
Place the cut side of the squash down in the dish and bake for 30 minutes. Turn cut side up and continue baking until fork tender, about 10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over moderate-high heat, coat the bottom with oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until they begin to soften, about two minutes. Add zucchini and bell peppers and sauté briefly, stir in the herbs and continue cooking until the vegetables are fork tender, about eight to 10 minutes. Add optional lima beans, peas or edamame and chopped tomato, mix to blend. Taste and adjusts the seasonings.
Remove squash from the oven, arrange on warm dinner plates and mound the sautéed vegetables in the cavity.
Can be completely done ahead and reheated (lightly tented with foil) in 350 degree F oven until hot, about 20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped parsley.