Tuesday, December 20, 2011


When it’s wintry this is a very typical sight in my kitchen.


To me, this is an ideal dinner.

Colorful, nutritionally varied, and with all my favorite flavors: buttery and rich (salmon), zingy (green salad), and sweet (butternut fries).

As usual, I made Hungry Girl butternut fries. As usual, they did not turn crispy (even though I laid them out like that to salt them for a good long while, which is supposedly the secret). But, as usual, I did not care, since they tasted awesome nonetheless.

And can we say superfoods?!


Okay so let’s rewind:

Do people have meals that they kind of throw together and don’t have real high expectations for and then go WHOA I HAVE TO MAKE THIS AGAIN AND MAKE AN OFISH RECIPE!

That’s the story of this.

I was still working at Americorps and brought home some pinto bean and cheese salsa that the kiddos had made in a cooking project. I stretched and healthified it with s’more salsa and chopped up butternut squash and the ensuing result was one of the best things I ate last winter. Comfort food delight, man.

So I had myself, surprise surprise, another butternut squash.

Chopped it up (please ignore that the unpredictability of my camera produces pictures of the same vegetable that are entirely different colors).


And got out some lovely pantry staples. I got the Pace salsa from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program and I threw some of that in.

You probably want to use a roasted, rather than fresh salsa. Something like pico de gallo would be a little too watery. I really liked the Pace salsa- it added a nice smokiness that made the recipe seem like it took longer than it did.

When I buy beans, my preferred brand is Goya in the low sodium form. Since Goya doesn’t make a low sodium and the organic Giant brand was on sale, I opted for those. Organic beans are almost always significantly lower in sodium, even if not labeled as such.


You give the butternut squash a nice long saute (a nonstick pan is good for this) so it gets golden.


Then add all the thick liquidy stuff.


When the squash starts to tenderize, you melt in the cheese


And then kind of try to mush it all together (this also helps release the starches from the beans and squash, which act as natural thickeners).

Note: I used the back of this wooden spoon to smuch everything. And promptly inadvertently splashed boiling liquid on the back of my hand. Do not, dear readers, emulate me.


The finished dish is surprisingly spicy (if you aren’t a spice lover you could use less salsa, use a milder salsa, etc. etc. Personally, I love the spice, so it was great for me)

It’s also, though devoid of meat, super satisfying in that meat-y way. You know you’re getting a oomph of protein and it has a great stewy consistency.

It’s also just super warming and comforting!


Butternut Bean Stew

2 tsp oil
½ a large butternut squash, cut into dice-sized cubes (about 6 cups)
Salt and pepper
1 ¾ cups salsa (1 16-oz jar)
1 can beans (I used kidney, you could use black or pinto)
2 oz cheese

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet on medium. Add squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Saute, stirring often, until golden.
Add salsa, beans, and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until the squash is becoming fork tender, about 20 minutes.
Add cheese, cook another 20 minutes, mashing beans and squash to thicken.

Serves 4 big appetites!


I made an absolutely delightful lunch later in the week that incorporated the leftover stew and various other things hanging around my fridge.

Butternut-bean stew, benefitting from daylight and the thickening (and flavor intensifying) effects of an overnight stay in the refrigerator.


Colcannon, which regretfully did NOT improve with a trip in the fridge and had kind of a gross texture and odd flavor the next day.

If you make colcannon (which you SHOULD, because it’s AWESOME!) simply eat it all the first day you make it :D


Because I am older and wiser than I… used to be? I now know I will be unsatisfied if I do not include grains in my lunch.

So I had a piece of toast. With peanut butter.


Aaaaaaaand finally smiley mug makes me smile.


Inside smiley mug was plain yogurt and a pear that was mega mushy and less than attractive but wowwwwwww made for a good bowl of yogurt.


If the aforementioned salmon is an ideal dinner for me, this is an ideal lunch.

1. Heavy on veggies

2. Using up leftovers/unattractive foods (and thus preventing food waste, which I hate!)

3. Many components to satisfy my culinary ADHD

4. Multiple textures/flavors/temperatures


And, like all my lunches these wintry days, (and dinners, and snacks, and my breakfasts always) accompanied by a bucket o’ tea.


Moving from butternut to pumpkin.

I had mixed success with this pumpkin.

First I made this dish:


Isn’t it attractive? I kind of modified a recipe I found that was supposed to have roasted acorn squash wedges on the bottom and butternut squash cubes on the top that were sauteed with onions and stewed up with parsnips and dried cranberries.

That sounds like it’s supposed to be so good, right? I just used pumpkin in top and bottom components.

Well it was a YAWN.


So the next day, I took the remains (I’d sort of picked out the parsnips and Craisins cause they were the only components with any flavors; so it was basically just pumpkin pieces) and turned them into this:


I borrowed some of the flavors from this West Indian pumpkin soup (sauteed some onion and ginger and jalapeno, mixed in brown sugar) and then added some zesty ingredients of my own (lime juice, chili powder), and the end result was passable.

But I think I love butternut more!


marie said...

Way to be creative with the dissapointing food. How is it possible that it looked so beautiful but was so blah?

I love your cream and rose colored dishes, very classy.-

MelindaRD said...

Great looking butternut squash stew. Looks really good. Not sure what happened on your other dish though. Maybe it just lacked in some seasoning or flavors? I ate some really good pumpkin the other day that was just steamed- OK kabocha, but in Japan that is a pumpkin, so obviously when I ask what is it, I get the response pumpkin, to which I reply kabocha, to which they reply, yes pumpkin-I only recently learned this is because the word for pumpkin in Japanese is kabocha, but since in the US this was taken (by what we know as a pumpkin), in the US we call their pumpkin by the Japanese word, which is kabocha. But now I know better. Apparently American pumpkins are used for animal feed around here.