Parmesan Butternut Squash

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Sometimes simple ingredients come together to make the perfect dish. With only four ingredients, this side dish is easy to make yet so tasty. I don’t normally add much salt to my vegetables, but the saltiness of the cheese really put this squash on another level. It tastes as sweet as always but with perfect contrast. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The only trick to know here is that the squash can’t be crowded in the pan, or it won’t brown; it will steam. It may seem like an unnecessary effort to use two pans, but it caramelizes the squash so it tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with foil and coat with olive oil spray.
  2. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the butternut squash. Cut it in half and remove the seeds; then cut into small pieces.
  3. Put half of the squash on each baking sheet, being sure to leave lots of room for the pieces to brown. Drizzle a half-teaspoon of oil over each baking sheet, and use your hands to mix the oil into the squash. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the pans from the oven, stir the squash, and return the pans to the oven, but switch the pans—the pan that was on the top rack should now be on the bottom rack. 2014-10-31 18.57.10
  5. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake the squash for 15 minutes more.
  6. Remove squash from the oven and sprinkle each pan with parmesan cheese. Stir and serve.

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Serves 4. Active time 15 minutes; total time 55 minutes. Adapted from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/11/roasted-butternut-squash-with-pine-nuts-and-parmesan/

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Black Bean & Butternut Quinoa Salad

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This hearty, flavorful bowl of quinoa, beans, and squash was a shining moment in my 15-degree winter evening. I’ve been craving heavy food, particularly as my meat-free January comes to a close. Thanks to this recipe, I didn’t sneak out to get a burger or chicken fingers (which I would regret for GERD-related reasons as much as for breaking my meat fast).

This recipe also made clear how much I’ve been missing black beans. Before heartburn, I always paired them with tomato, onion, and jalepeno—and they’ve been off the menu because I didn’t know how else to cook them. It turns out black beans are just as great in a more subtly flavored dish. I love their firm mouthfeel, and the color looks interesting against the red quinoa.

I used leftover lemon-rosemary dipping oil in this recipe, but lemon zest would work too. I hate to buy a lemon knowing that I’m going to throw it away after zesting, due to the acidity of the juice. Flavored olive oil is less expensive than zest in the long run. I plan to buy another bottle when this one runs out.

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This salad is satisfying either hot or at room temperature. When the leftovers are reheated, they even keep their herb flavors since I added so much parsley and cilantro. This meal is such a pleasure to eat.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked butternut squash (If you don’t have leftovers, peel, cube, and roast for 35 min at 425 degrees)
  • 1 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon olive oil (or 1 1/2 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp lemon zest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cool water. Place in a medium pot with the broth and bring to a boil. Add the oregano, onion powder, and cumin. Stir, lower the heat, and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed—mine took 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the black beans. If your squash was cooked in the skin, chop it into small cubes.
  3. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa, stir in the black beans, squash, and goat cheese. Allow to sit for 2 minutes and stir again, incorporating the cheese into the dish. IMG_5033
  4. Drizzle the quinoa with vinegar and oil, and shut off the heat. Stir in the parsley and cilantro and serve.

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Serves 4. Active time 25 minutes; total time 30 minutes.

Maple-Butternut Muffins (The Leftovers Club)

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These muffins are dense and filling—perfect for breakfast or for a snack on the snowshoe trail. They’re also moist and sweet, and the sugar-walnut topping makes them craveable. The combination of squash, apples, and nutmeg is reminiscent of autumn’s pumpkin mania, but I don’t mind. I can’t wait nine months to cook with these flavors!

You can defrost a package of frozen squash for this recipe. It’s a great addition to oatmeal and sauces, just like canned pumpkin. I had some leftover roasted squash (35 minutes at 425 degrees, coated in cooking spray), so I mashed that with a fork. If you use leftovers, make sure they haven’t been salted.

I sent these muffins to Jennifer of Recipe for Random for this month’s edition of The Leftovers Club. If you’re a blogger who has leftovers and you want to receive baked goods in the mail, sign up and join us! Click below to see what everyone baked this month.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 a Gala apple, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp walnuts
  • pinch of cinnamon

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  2. Use an electric mixer to beat the egg, sugar, maple syrup, oil, applesauce, and vanilla on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients in a few batches, mixing on low speed until well combined.
  3. Add the butternut squash puree and oats and mix for 2 minutes. Stir in the walnuts and apples by hand. IMG_4980
  4. Make the crumble topping by pulsing the sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in a mini-chop until blended.
  5. Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into 9 paper-lined muffin cups, and sprinkle with the topping.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

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Makes 9 muffins. Adapted from
http://www.thesweetchick.com/2013/10/maple-butternut-squash-bread.html

Chicken, Butternut & Basil Stir-Fry

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Butternut squash isn’t a traditional ingredient for stir-fry or Chinese food, but it works so well here. The starchy consistency means you don’t need rice, and that makes the meal a lot easier to put together. Also, I can’t get enough winter squash during this time of year.

A down side to the dropping temperatures is that my basil plant needed to be retired. The leaves were getting brown edges, and I knew the first frost could happen anytime. I stripped off every leaf, even the pea-sized babies. This translated to 1 cup of leaves and inspired me to add a basil explosion to this stir fry. Thank you, basil plant, for your contributions this year! I will be purchasing one of your cousins in the spring.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt
  • 6 chicken tenders or 2 small chicken breasts
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the butternut squash and chop it into small pieces.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Arrange squash evenly on the sheet and coat with cooking spray. Roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.
  3. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the surface with cooking spray.
  4. In a small bowl, mix oregano, thyme, onion powder, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Dice the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Coat with the spice mix. IMG_4793
  6. When the pan is very hot, add the chicken in a single layer. Lower the heat to medium. Add the ginger, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce and stir to coat evenly. Cook until chicken is just cooked through, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  7. When the squash is done, immediately add it to the hot pan along with the chicken. Add the basil leaves and olive oil and stir to coat. Serve immediately (before the basil wilts too much). IMG_4799
Serves 3 to 4.

Westville: Market Veggie Plate

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Westville, a casual eatery with several NYC locations, serves so many vegetables. At the Chelsea location I was excited to see the names of their veggie options painted right on the building! This list lured me in after a weekend of decadent New York meals.

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Instead of a typical brunch, I ordered the market plate, which gives the choice of four vegetable sides. Restaurant veggies are often doused in oil, cheese, vinegar, or citrus, so I looked at this with the goal of preventing acid reflux. From about two dozen options, I chose these:

  • Sauteed kale with shallots: This was delicious! The kale was tender and bright green. I picked out the shallot pieces and didn’t have a problem with heartburn—but I enjoyed the flavor the shallots left behind.
  • Artichoke hearts with parmesan: The waitress said the artichokes were roasted, but it seemed like they were canned—which means they were soaked in acidic liquid. The dominant taste was lemon, so these weren’t a good choice for me. At least there wasn’t too much cheese . . . but I ate only about half of these.
  • Mixed mushrooms with leeks and herbs: I’ve never been served a plain pile of mushrooms like this. They didn’t have much herb flavor, so I reached my mushroom limit about halfway through the pile.
  • Autumn quinoa salad: Do people describe quinoa as “al dente”? They should; this quinoa was perfectly cooked and maintained its shape and springiness. It was a treat mixed with butternut squash, parsley, and possibly honey in the sauce.

I was satisfied with this meal overall. It made me feel good to sit in front of a plate full of only vegetables. One of the choices was mediocre in taste, and one of them was bad for heartburn—but the helpings were more than enough to fill me up. I’ll judge this a restaurant win. I would return to Westville, although next time I’d try an entree.