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Monday, March 1, 2010

An Ode to Winter Squash

Rich in Vitamins A (well over 100% of your daily intake) and Vitamins C, as well as anti-cancer fighting phyto-nutrients, winter squash (like butternut and acorn) are delicious and exceptionally healthy. Take advantage of the overabundance of these wonderful root vegetables during this never-ending winter and let those nutrients nourish your body while tempting your palate.

If you haven’t already purchased Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Food Kitchen, then you absolutely must buy it. It is full of painstakingly detailed recipes that are clearly made with skill and a love of southern food.

For example, his Butternut Squash and Bartlett Pear Soup is simple to make, drop dead gorgeous, and astoundingly delicious.

Bryant Terry’s Butternut Squash and Bartlett Pear Soup

I copied it here for ease, but you can also find it at the Vegetarian Times recipe database here.

3 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts finely chopped (3 cups)
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (2 lb.)
3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces (11/2 lb.)
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Heat oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, and cook 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring often.

Add squash and pears, and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add salt, if desired. Simmer 20 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.

Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Purée soup in batches in blender or food processor, or use immersion blender in saucepan; blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan, and stir in thyme. Reheat over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until warmed through. Season with salt and white pepper, if desired. Serve garnished with pumpkin seeds, if using.


If you’re looking for an even simpler way to enjoy a winter squash, simply have it as a side dish for dinner. Try this quick and easy recipe and you’ll be full Vitamins A and C before you know it.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash Halves

1 acorn squash, cut in half with seeds scooped out
1 tsp – 1 T maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the acorn squash (the inside, not the outside) with maple syrup and bake for 45 minutes or until the squash can be pierced with a fork.

Maple Cinnamon Quinoa Stuffed Squash Halves

If you are feeling decadent, then you can stuff the acorn squash with quinoa for a level-7 vegan dish!

1 Cup of Quinoa
2 Cups water
½ - 1 tsp cinnamon (or more if you want it!)
1 Tb maple sryup

Additional add-ins – raisins or cranberries, sliced almonds or chopped pecans

Follow the directions above for Maple Glazed Acorn Squash Halves. Once the acorn squash is in the oven, bring the water to a boil. Add the quinoa. Let it simmer for 15 -20 minutes until the water is completely absorbed. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon – and any additional add-ins you’d like in your stuffing. When the squash is almost done (8-10 minutes or so), pull it out of the oven and add the stuffing. Bake until squash is completely finished.

A Restaurant Review – Butternut Squash

Lastly, in the theme of squash, I’d like to do a quick restaurant review. In Chapel Hill, NC there is an adorable vegetarian restaurant tucked away near the UNC campus. Its name is… wait for it… Butternut Squash. We were excited to try it out, but had been warned that many of its food items were bland. We decided to give it a go anyway and, I’m glad we did, because we were pleasantly surprised by the food.

We started off with the Tempeh Hot Wings with an avocado sauce. These were deliciously spicy, thick chunks of tempeh. We truly enjoyed them. Then Brandon ordered the Indian curry dish. Piled high with thickly sliced veggies and covered in a delicately spiced tomato curry, it was delicious. I had the house salad without feta, which had pan seared butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and pears. It was good, but not big. I wouldn’t recommend it for a dinner. Along with a soup or a few bites of your husband’s dish, it will fill you up though. All in all, I give Butternut Squash a big thumbs up! It was simple, delicate flavors, but it definitely wasn’t bland.

I'm sorry there were no pictures. I'm terrible at remembering to take pictures in restaurants!

I hope you enjoyed all the squash talk this week and I hope you find yourself enjoying one and reaping all the lung healthy benefits of Vitamin A and beta-carotene.

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