Roasted Butternut Squash with Poblano Pepper

Roasted Butternut Squash with Poblano Pepper

Mains & Sides Recipe

This dish is vibrant and warming. I’ve paired with a protein for meals but it could be used as a main dish accompanied with other veggies or grains since the squash is hearty. I use a chimichurri spice blend that has 3 different dried Mexican chiles. Chili powder would make a great substitute as noted below.

The recipe will fill two large baking sheets. If you only have one baking sheet, wrap up one half of the butternut squash and put it in the refrigerator for another day. You can also half spice, chili and sauce amount.

  • 1 butternut squash (2 lbs)
  • 1 poblano pepper, deseeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 tsp chimichurri spice (or 2 tsp chili powder plus ½ tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp paprika (omit if using chili powder)
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Sauce

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • Preheat oven at 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice each half, from top to bottom, into 1/3-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on baking sheets. Combine the oil and spices in a small bowl and brush the oil mixture onto the squash slices. Sprinkle the poblano then a little salt over the slices and roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Set aside to cool.

    In meantime, whisk together the sauce ingredient. Once the butternut squash slices have cooled, plate them and drizzle with the sauce. Add fresh lime juice to desired taste.

    Winter Squash

    Health Wellness

    Seeing a variety of winter squash at the markets is a clear indication that Autumn is here. The array of shapes and sizes bring back comforting, childhood memories of changing leaves that would blanket the neighborhoods and rolling hills. However, while the vibrant red, orange and yellow Autumn leaves don’t last long, the presence of the winter squash last through winter. They have absorbed the sun’s energy through the summer season and continue to provide warmth and comfort through colder winter season. In the practice of Ayurveda, the stored energy is considered to be a warm ojas, which is essential energy that is responsible for vitality, strength, health and wellness.

    Winter squash are sweet in flavor and range from a moderate to medium-heavy flavor essence. Similar to Ayurveda, Chinese medicine considers squash to be a warm sweet vegetable (although technically they are fruit.) They are high in complex carbohydrates, which makes their sweetness safe for diabetics.

    Winter squash are hearty yet also help drain excess fluids due to being a mild diuretic. They also have a good amount of fiber, which promotes regularity and maintenance of a healthy digestive tract by supporting healthy gut bacteria. Winter squash is loaded with vitamin A (deep orange color = high in carotenes) which is important for healthy eyesight. The carotenes combined with the sweetness make them a good blood and liver tonic. Winter squash also contains a good amount of potassium (decreases blood pressure) and vitamin C (boosts immune function) as well as other key nutrients that promote healthy bones, skin and hair and reduce inflammation.

    They can be used in sweet or savory dishes, but I prefer the latter. My personal favorites are kabocha and butternut.

    Shared recipes:
    Curried Butternut Squash Soup
    Roasted Butternut Squash with Poblano Pepper

     

     

    Balkan Polenta with Rapini

    Balkan Polenta with Rapini

    Mains & Sides Recipe

    To me, this is comfort food. The warm, sweet flavor of the polenta combined with bitter rapini and salty, tangy feta and makes my mouth water. Balkan polenta is made with coarse cornmeal, which gives it a more defined texture. And while I love Greek feta, I like a softer and stronger Bulgarian feta for this and other baked dishes. I also only buy feta swimming in brine. The brine keeps the cheese moist and gives it has a longer shelf life. When first made the polenta will have a softer consistency like porridge. As it sits it will firm and cut nicely into squares. It’s also great as leftovers. One next-day idea shown in the photo below: cut it into squares; brush the squares with olive oil; and bake at 350 deg F until golden.

    Polenta
    • 1 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
    • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 1 ¾ cups feta, freshly crumbled
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • ½ lb rapini, washed and coarsely chopped
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Topping
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 4 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp Allepo or Urfa Biber pepper (alternatively one pinch of crushed pepper flakes)
    • ½ cup white wine or scant ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
    • 1 Tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • Juice of lemon to taste (optional)
    • Salt (optional)

    Mix the cornmeal with 1 ½ cups cold water in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

    In meantime, bring stock to boil. Add rapini and cornmeal, stirring frequently for 10 to 12 minutes. Add olive oil and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove mixture from heat and fold in the feta and yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.

    For the topping, heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, and then add the pepper. Add the wine or stock and when sauce starts to bubble, simmer on low for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and add salt and lemon juice to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the polenta. (If sensitive to salt or lemon, I suggest adding after sauce is added to polenta.)

    Baked Balkan Polenta Squares Option
    Dried Orange Peel

    Dried Orange Peel

    Mise en place Wellness

    Dried Orange Peel: Before you peel or cut your organic oranges, remove the thin strips with a peeler. Place the strips separately on a towel/paper towel in an open dish. Leave them out to dry for 3-4 days. Once they are completely dry, put them airtight jar.  Dried orange peels have a deep flavor which are a great ingredient for savory or sweet recipes. You can zest or grind the peels or add them whole into sauces or stews.

    For my autumn-winter smoothies, which during the cooler temperatures I consume close to room temperature, I toss in half an orange strip, a generous amount of cinnamon and at least a 1/2-inch slice of ginger. Orange peel helps improve digestion and sluggishness in the gut, and ginger and cinnamon are both warming spices that make the smoothie more digestible during the season.