Our Squash Game is Strong
Photo and food styling by Meda Kessler
Sweet potatoes and pumpkins typically take starring roles during the fall and holiday season, but we’re big fans of butternut squash, too.
It’s sweeter than pumpkin, and we prefer the texture. Compared to potatoes, squash has fewer calories, carbs and sugar. It’s especially popular in a traditional butternut squash soup, a staple at our house during the winter. The soup is easy to make in a big batch, and it freezes and reheats beautifully. But we want to offer more options, including a spicier, creamier soup with an Asian accent and a roasted version sweetened with honey that livens up a salad mix. — Meda Kessler
Butternut Spinach Pasta Shells on Vegan Basil Pesto
- 1 box jumbo pasta shells, cooked
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch cubes (you should have about 4 cups)
- One 10-ounce bag fresh baby spinach
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, cut into small dice
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread squash cubes on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes or until fork tender.
Saute spinach, garlic and onion in a pan. Add red pepper flakes, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Cool mixture; add to half of roasted butternut squash cubes. Fill cooked pasta shells with 2 tablespoons squash-spinach mixture. (You may have some pasta left over.)
Vegan Basil Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons water to thin consistency
Process all ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly blended.
To prepare dish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pesto on the bottom of a round, oven-safe dish. Fan stuffed pasta shells in a circle on top of the pesto. Add remaining roasted squash to the center. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
You can serve this flavor-infused squash mixture sans greens as a side dish, but we think it pairs well — and looks great — with peppery greens.
Honey Nut Butternut Squash Salad
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 4 cups) peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup toasted pecans
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (can substitute feta)
- Salad greens (we like a mix of arugula and kale)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss cubed squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread squash on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
Remove from oven; add to a mixing bowl. Stir in dried cranberries, pecans, honey and cheese crumbles. Gently mix. Add to a bed of fresh greens and serve. Dressing is optional; if you like a “wetter” salad, add a champagne vinaigrette.
Butternut Squash Green Curry Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons coconut or avocado oil
- 2 medium shallots, diced
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 2 (13½-ounce) cans coconut milk, reserving half a cup
- 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and place facedown on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until tender (test by poking through the skin with a fork). Gently scrape seeds from squash and discard.
Add oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add shallots, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are tender.
Scoop squash from baked halves into the pot (discard skin). Add coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce and stock. Increase heat to high. When liquid comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove soup from heat. Remove lemongrass. Use a hand blender or food processor (working in batches) and puree. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Add stock to thin the soup to desired consistency.
To serve, ladle into bowls. Drizzle a spoonful of reserved coconut milk on top and garnish with lemongrass.