Sunday, September 8, 2013

Butternuts! About Fall

As I sit here, relieved that at least I've finished my chemistry prelab, with butternut squash boiling away on the stove in a concoction of cinnamon, chicken stock, and milk, and slightly cooler weather than usual outside, it's obvious that my favorite season, fall, is here at last. And, as you're probably aware, with fall comes warm, toasty, aromatic foods like soup, roasts, pies, and crumbles. Squash, root vegetables, apples, plums, and more are abundant at farmers markets as well as the grocery store, and I love it.
Of course, there are things I definitely dislike about Autumn. School starts, and 40 hours of work and 17 credits at school are not a happy mix, unlike pumpkin pie spice and lattes. I'm trying to save money this year by packing more lunches and dinners from home, but I can only live on PB&Js and salads for so long. My friends think I'm weird for it, but I literally get bored of food if I eat a certain type too often. So, using one of the butternut squashes my dear, sweet southern grandmother gave us a few weeks ago, I'm sharing three recipes that incorporate the hallmark squash of fall.

Butternut Squash Soup
Delicious all on its' own, or with a grilled slice of sourdough bread and a fresh salad on the side.

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup organic milk
1 cup organic chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/4 cup onions, sauteed
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 leaves fresh sage (optional)
1/2 tsp. olive oil

Place squash, milk, stock, water, and spices into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, chop up about half of a small onion and saute it in a little olive oil until slightly browned. Once squash is fork-tender, remove pot from heat and add onions. Allow to cool slightly before blending with an immersion blender or food processor. Garnish with fresh chopped sage. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Chili with Butternut Squash 
Perfect for days when you're short on time. Full of fresh vegetables and plant-based proteins to keep you full, warm, and energized.

1 cup butternut squash, roasted and diced
1 small red onion
3 small sweet peppers
2 roma tomatoes
1 ear corn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 cup lentils
1/4 cup wheat berries or brown rice
2 tbsp chickpeas
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
shredded cheese (optional)

Soak beans, lentils, and chikpeas overnight. Drain, and add to crock pot with wheat berries or rice. Dice all vegetables and place in crock pot, excluding squash. Add seasonings and cover with 1/2 vegetable stock 1/2 water. Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 3-4. If liquid becomes too low, add just enough to cover ingredients. Enjoy with shredded cheese or diced green onion.

Butternut Squash Waffles

My personal favorite, a delicious way to add some vegetables to breakfast :) Recipe adapted from the Amish Country Cookbook, Volume 2.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup butternut squash, roasted or boiled and mashed
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 eggs, separated

Beat egg yolks, add milk, and beat for 1 minute. Sift together dry ingredients and add to the yolk/milk mixture. Mix in squash. Beat egg whites until stiff, and fold into batter. Dollop batter onto hot waffle iron for about 5 minutes, or until steam stops and waffles are golden brown and crispy.

Serve with warm (real) maple syrup and toasted pecans. Fresh plum or pear also goes well with these.