Autumn Star – Butternut Squash

Butternut squash certainly deserves as much attention in autumn as zucchini does in summer, don’t you agree? This beautifully golden orange colored squash is packed with fiber, potassium, and A and C vitamins. All that healthy goodness should rate this squash a little higher on your list of favorites. 

Look beyond butternut squash’s intimidating hard skin, and you’ll find a slightly sweet, nutty flavor — with so many meal possibilities!  Recipes I’ve made in the past with butternut squash: Butternut Squash, Wheat Berry & Blue Cheese Side Dish, Butternut Tartlets, Butternut Squash Bread, Butternut Squash SoupButternut Squash Nachos, to name a few. 

A great kitchen hack to get through butternut’s hard skin is to place the entire squash (uncut) into the microwave and cook on high for about 3-4 minutes (for an average size squash). Let the squash sit for another minute or two before cutting. Skin is softened and easy to cut and peel. I just use a vegetable peeler to get the skin off the butternut squash at this stage. 

Another main ingredient in today’s recipe is lentils. Brown, green, yellow, red, or black — lentils are low in calories, rich in iron and folate and an excellent source of protein. I’ve made multiple dishes with lentils that are quite tasty and easy to make. One of my favorites: Lentil Soup.  

Today’s recipe is so versatile it can be eaten as a side dish, added to chili, spooned over a salad, or mixed into a pasta dish. I know! The opportunities to use butternut squash are almost endless! 

Just remember, cooked butternut squash reduces down by about a third. So if a recipe calls for 3 cups cooked squash, be sure you cook at least 4 cups to keep ingredients proportioned correctly. 

Roast butternut squash.

Cook lentils in water and drain.

Combine ingredients and one recipe is ready to eat!

 

Autumn Star - Butternut Squash

Yields 2 servings as a side dish

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups butternut squash (uncooked), peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/4 cup dry lentils (any color)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Options:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon plain non-fat Greek Yogurt

Instructions

  1. Microwave butternut squash for a few minutes to soften the skin.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.
  3. Toss squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and then lay squash onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast squash for 30 minutes.
  4. Cook lentils for about 15 minutes in a saucepan with lightly salted water. Drain.
  5. Stir salt, cumin and red wine vinegar with cooked lentils. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
  6. At this point you can continue to make this recipe or reserve the butternut squash and lentils to use in other recipes.
  7. For this recipe: mix together butternut squash, yogurt, lentils and feta cheese (if using). Serve warm or cold.
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Whether you use the entire recipe to create other recipe versions or just use a few spoonfuls of leftovers, these options are easy to make:

Chili add-on – mix in this butternut recipe (minus feta) to a batch of chili. Adds a rich denseness with plenty of powerful healthy impact. 

Pasta add-in – top a plateful of pasta with this butternut mixture. Oh so good!

Salad topping – sprinkle a few spoonfuls of this recipe over a warm or cold lettuce salad. Add another layer of flavor. 

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