Tag Archives: butternut squash

Butternut Squash Mole Sauce

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It’s now the beginning of April, and I am still trying to find ways to use winter squash! It’s totally my own fault though – I did buy an extra butternut squash at the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago.

I used half the butternut squash in my Spinach and Butternut Squash Pasta, but I still had to figure out what to do with the other half.

I wanted to try something different, but what?  Well, I watched a marathon of the show “Chopped” on Food Network the other day, and I noticed one thing.  No matter what the chefs on “Chopped” made, they always made a sauce.  And if that sauce wasn’t any good, or they ran out of time and didn’t get it on the plate, they typically didn’t make it to the next round.

Thankfully, I don’t have famous chefs critiquing the food that I made in my kitchen, or they would be horrified by the lack of sauce on my dishes!  But I did think that I could probably make a cool sauce using the butternut squash.  Turns out, I was right!



I sliced the pork chops and piled all this good stuff into a flour tortilla. Super tasty!

I know it’s not a traditional mole, but Butternut Squash and Anaheim Chili Sauce just didn’t have the right flow.  Call it creative license.

Butternut Squash Mole

  • 1 1/2 lbs Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 3 dried Anaheim Chilis (Ancho would work too, I just couldn’t find them.)
  • 1 medium white onion, rough chopped
  • 5-10 garlic cloves, depending on size (I used an entire head of garlic – about 6 big cloves)
  • Chinese Five Spice (the jar I have is a blend of Star Anise, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel and Black Pepper)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Toast the dried chilis on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

They smelled awesome - sort of a warn, smoky, chocolate scent.  Very unexpected.

They smelled awesome – sort of a warn, smoky, chocolate scent. Very unexpected.

Once the chilies are toasted, remove them from the oven.  (Side Note:  I chopped off the top stems and shook out some of the seeds because I had never worked with dried chilies before and I didn’t know how hot they would be. I have no idea if that’s approved behavior or not.)  Soak the chilies in hot water to rehydrate.  You’ll also use this water when blending the sauce.

The water takes on the color of the chili peppers almost immediately.

The water takes on the color of the chili peppers almost immediately.

Toss the cubed squash, chopped onion and garlic with olive oil (enough to coat), salt, pepper, and a couple big pinches of Chinese Five Spice.  Transfer the squash mixture to a baking sheet (I used the same one I toasted the peppers on) and roast in a 350-400 degree oven for about a half hour.

After roasting - you want the veggies to be soft and get that caramelized outside.

After roasting – you want the veggies to be soft and get that caramelized outside.

Transfer the roasted veggies to a blender.  Add the rehydrated chili peppers (I only added two peppers at first – after I blended the sauce a bit, I tasted it before adding the last pepper) and some of the chili pepper water.

Looking down into the blender...

Looking down into the blender…

I added about a cup of water, blended it, tasted it, added a pinch of salt and another half cup of water and blended it some more.  Make it as thick or as thin as you like – I wanted a thicker, more substantial sauce.

Once the sauce is made, it keeps really well in the refrigerator and reheats beautifully.  I almost wish I had another butternut squash to make some more!  It went well with chicken, potatoes, pork, eggs – the list goes on and on!

This post is linked to What’s in the Box?  at In Her Chucks. 

What’s your go-to sauce?  I still have a half-dozen dried peppers left – any suggestions? 


Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash


I’m having a bit of a seasonal identity crisis right now.  The calendar says that it’s the first day of Spring, but there have been snow flurries blowing all day today, and I’m still cooking wintery dishes!  We’ve had a couple of random warm, sunny days this month, but it just feels like Mother Nature is having a laugh at our expense.  So is it Winter?  Or Spring?  Do we go by the official calendar designation, or the weather?

I’m hopeful that soon Ohio will settle on a season – as much as it ever does, that is! But until the weather outside starts to feel like spring, I decided to go for a new, bright background.  I thought the green lettuce was pretty, and with the name of the blog, it made sense.  Let me know what you think of the new look!

Early March in Ohio - garlic shoots poking up through the snow!

Early March in Ohio – garlic shoots poking up through the snow!

So since the weather still doesn’t feel very Springy, I’m in the mood for comfort food.  And after my Fall CSA, one of my go-to comfort foods is squash.  Who knew?  Before I started my CSA, I would never have guessed how much I loved squash.  Now it’s a bit of an obsession.  Bear with me, folks – I know that I’ve posted a lot of butternut squash recipes on this blog in the past year, but of all of them, this may just be my favorite.

Or it’s possible that my favorite recipe is always the one I just made (or just ate).

Crispy prosciutto - so pretty!

Crispy prosciutto – so pretty!

The addition of the spinach and salty prosciutto (leftover from pizza making) to this pasta dish really brightened the flavor of the butternut squash.  After I ate this, I was warm and happy, but not weighed down like pasta can do sometimes.  It was a light butternut squash pasta, which was a really nice surprise!

As I was writing this out, I realized that it looks like a complicated recipe.  I promise you that it isn’t!  It did take some time to cook the squash, but if you had frozen cooked squash from earlier in the year, you could easily use that and make this much faster.  It took me about 1 hour, 15 minutes from start to eat.

Pasta with Spinach and Butternut Squash

  • 2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus a splash for the spinach
  • about 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional – I had it on hand, so I added a splash or two.)
  • 2 double handfuls of baby spinach (Sorry I don’t have a more precise measurement!  Use as much or as little as you want.)
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried Sage (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 lb Penne pasta (or whatever shape you have on hand)
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto (optional – for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cube the butternut squash and toss with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage.  Transfer the coated cubes to a baking sheet and bake until caramelized and soft, about 45 minutes.  Toss the squash several times while it’s cooking.


If you’re using the prosciutto, lay the slices out on a Silpat on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until crispy.  Remove from oven, crumble or rough chop and set aside for a garnish.

While the squash cooks, start the water for the pasta.  Next, heat a flat sided sauté pan (I think that’s what it’s called) over medium heat.  Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is slightly translucent.  Add a splash of chicken stock and the spinach, and cover until the spinach wilts.


By now, the squash should be done.  Reserve about a cup of roasted squash pieces to add to the sauce at the end (for texture, and because they’re pretty).  Put the rest of the squash cubes in a blender with 2 cups of chicken stock and the heavy cream, if you’re using it.  (If you like a thicker sauce, start with less stock and do what feels right.) Blend the squash until smooth.

I wanted to roast the squash to get that rich taste - so yummy!

I wanted to roast the squash to get that rich taste – so yummy!

Add the blended squash to the pan of cooked spinach and stir together.  Admire the swirls of green throughout the bright orange squash sauce.  Take a picture, if you like.


At this point, your water should be boiling.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta cooks, add the Parmesan cheese to the spinach and squash sauce.  Stir.  Keep the sauce warm over low heat until the pasta is done.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Stir.  Remove from heat.


Top the pasta with crumbled prosciutto and a little bit of cheese, if desired.  This made easily six servings, but it works great for leftovers (I made this last night, and ate it for lunch again today).  As you know, anything that I will willingly eat leftovers from is a good dish!



This post is linked to What’s in the Box? at In Her Chucks. 

What do you think of the new look?  What’s your go-to comfort food for cold weather? 

Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Pizza

Pizza and beer!

Pizza and beer!

First, I have to thank Kirsten at FarmFreshFeasts for this pizza inspiration.  Not only does she have some killer pizzas on her blog (like this one, and this one), she recently posted this recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca Stuffed With Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese.  The flavor combination of butternut squash, goat cheese and prosciutto just sounded fabulous!

So logically, I made it into a pizza!  Thanks, Kirsten!

Actually making the pizza was so easy I almost couldn’t believe it, although it did take some pre-planning.  I used a pizza dough recipe from the book Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish (I love, love, love this book!!).  It was an overnight recipe, so I actually started the pizza dough last night around 6 and let it proof all night.

I got up early this morning (5:50, if you must know) to divide the dough and shape it into balls.  The balls went on a cookie sheet and into the fridge to proof all day while I was at work.

I got better at shaping the dough as I went.  The first one was a little wonky.

I got better at shaping the dough as I went. The first one was a little wonky (bottom right). 

This was the first time I ever made pizza dough from scratch, so I was super excited.  When I got home from work, I immediately put the pizza stone in the oven and set the temp to as high as my oven would go (or 500 degrees).  The oven and the pizza stone preheated for about 40 minutes.  When I got the dough out of the fridge to shape it, I turned the oven to broil – in his book, Ken calls that “super heating” the pizza stone.  🙂

I assembled my pizza topping ingredients:  butternut squash that I had cooked earlier in the season and frozen (I moved it from freezer to fridge last night), goat cheese crumbles, shredded mozzarella (I love cheese), prosciutto and sage leaves.  Also black pepper, but it didn’t make it into the picture.


One thing I learned right away.  It is apparently impossible for me to make homemade pizza dough without covering the kitchen in flour.  Whoops.

As per the instructions in the cookbook, I punched down the center of the dough, flipped it over and punched it down again.


Then the cool part – I picked up the dough by the edge, and constantly turning it, just let gravity stretch it out to the right size and shape.  (I don’t have pictures of that because it took both hands and all my attention.)  I was so proud – no ripping or tearing, and it was actually vaguely round shaped!  Life is good.

I put the dough on a floured peel and proceeded to apply toppings.


From the bottom up:  Butternut squash (not too thick), goat cheese crumbles, mozzarella, prosciutto, sage leaves, black pepper.  The sage leaves were little, so I just tore them in half and scattered them over everything else.

I turned the oven from broil back to bake (500 degrees) and it was go time.

Getting the pizza from the pizza peel to the pizza stone was the trickiest part.  I feel like there’s some kind of wrist flick that I have yet to master, but I did okay.  This was awesome though – the pizza stone was so hot that you could hear the sizzle as soon as the pizza dough touched it.  So cool!

I baked it for 8 minutes, then turned on the broiler for about 2 minutes to get the top all browned and yummy.


It was fabulous.  The crust was tangy, crunchy on the bottom but chewy around the edge – everything I hoped it would be.  And the combo of the squash, goat cheese, prosciutto and sage – again, thanks Kirsten!  I ate two big pieces, and it took some serious willpower to stop there.

Be on the lookout for some more non-traditional pizzas in the next few days – I do still have pizza dough in the fridge!

Are you a pizza fan?  What are your favorite non-traditional pizza toppings? 

Ready for my close-up!

Ready for my close-up!


Butternut Squash Hash


Happy New Year, everyone!

So after some baked apples, and Mom’s peppermint bark candies, I did finally get in the Christmas spirit and really enjoyed the holidays.  I will confess though, I haven’t done much cooking since before Christmas.  I took advantage of all the family dinners and the leftovers that come with them!

But now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back in my regular routine – and that includes cooking a real dinner after work (at least a couple of times a week!).  Before New Year’s, I had bought a couple of good steaks, fully intending to make a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner for Brian and myself.  Didn’t happen.  We lazed around the house watching movies all weekend, and cooking a fancy dinner was just too much work!  We ended up going out New Year’s Day for a late lunch.  I would have cooked, but since Brian suggested going out…well, I happily accepted!  (Now, I did make sauerkraut and sausages on New Year’s Day, but I used the slow cooker.  Nothing better than cooking and being lazy at the same time!)

However, that meant that I had some really nice cuts of meat that needed to be cooked.  All right, I’ll have a fancy weeknight dinner!  I also had a couple of squashes stashed away from my Fall CSA share that needed to be used up pretty soon.  What else…oooo, bacon!  And little gold potatoes, red onions…that works!  Butternut Squash Hash!

I didn’t have a recipe for this, and I’m terrible with measuring, but I’ll try to approximate amounts.  The hash made two hearty servings, which was perfect, since I was just cooking for me.   (I’ll probably take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow).

I diced about half of the small butternut squash and about the same amount of little gold Yukon potatoes.  I also diced up about a half cup of red onion and three strips of good, thick cut bacon.


I cooked the bacon in a flat sided pan until it was crispy, then pulled it and put it aside.  I had quite a bit of bacon grease in the pan, so I drained a little of it, but not all.  I turned the heat up to high and tossed in  the butternut squash and potatoes.  I added salt, fresh ground black pepper and a couple generous pinches of Chinese Five Spice.

I cooked this on high for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the squash and potatoes could get carmelized all over.  Then I turned the heat down to medium low and added the red onion.


I let this cook until the squash and potatoes were soft – about another 10 minutes.  I added the bacon bits back in just before I served it so they stayed crispy.

While this was going, I cooked the steaks in a skillet.  While the skillet was preheating on medium high, I seasoned the steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked the first side on medium high for about 5 minutes, then flipped and cooked the second side for another 5 minutes.  Because these were really thick pieces, I then turned the heat down and let them continue to cook for about another 10 minutes.  Perfect medium rare.  Awesome!

I topped the steak with some herb butter and served it with a big helping of the hash.  It was fantastic!  The hash had a deep, warm flavor from the five spice, and the herb butter was fresh and sweet.  It was a nice contrast and made for a happy belly!


While I was taking pictures, my big orange cat, Jake, sat down in the chair across from me.  I think he was wondering where his steak was – I know he didn’t want the butternut squash hash!


Butternut Squash Risotto, Take Two


This is the last squash post – for at least a day or so.  I promise!  But I still had a bit of leftover cooked Butternut Squash to use up, and risotto seemed like the perfect meal for a cold, windy December day.  Unlike my last Butternut Squash Risotto, for this one I added the cooked squash to the chicken broth so that it became part of the sauce.

Other than that, I just followed the instructions on the container of Arborio rice – I sautéed some minced shallots in olive oil, than added the rice (and some salt and white pepper) and toasted that for a couple of minutes before adding the liquid.  As you can see, the butternut squash did indeed turn the chicken broth a beautiful shade of orange!


When it was done cooking, I stirred in some butter and Parmesan cheese.  Simple, pretty and tasty.


Plus,  now that all my leftover squash has been used up, I can move on to pumpkins!

Butternet Squash Risotto

So earlier in the summer, I was searching for eggplant recipes to use the plethora of eggplant I was getting each week in my CSA box. (I found a couple really good recipes I need to post – I’ll try to get caught up soon!)  Now that we’re edging into autumn, I’m swamped with squash!  And I’m searching for new and delicious squash recipes.

I’ve had the most luck so far with butternut.  A few days ago, I made some kick ass Butternut Squash Fries (the recipe is here).  And tonight, I made a fabulous and beautiful butternut Squash Risotto.  I don’t make risotto much, but I really should take the time to make it more often.   It’s warm and comforting…perfect for a chilly, gray day like today.  It’s funny – as soon as the weather gets cold and it starts to get dark earlier and earlier, all I want to cook/eat is comfort foods!  (Yesterday it was garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts – maybe it’s not everybody’s comfort food, but it was definitely yummy!).

This recipe was really easy, but it took longer than I expected (like I said, I don’t make risotto very often, and I forget that it’s pretty time intensive – at least compared to the minute rice I usually make!).  I served the risotto with some Rainbow Shard sauted with garlic and a grilled strip steak with blue cheese.  Fantastic!

Here’s the recipe, but I’m really bad about measuring, so the amounts are approximate.  I think they’re pretty close, though!

Butternut Squash Risotto

  • 1/2 a butternut squash, diced small
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • about 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • butter
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Saute the shallots in olive oil until soft.  Add the diced squash, salt and cook until tender. I added a pat of butter here as well, since there wasn’t much olive oil left in the pan.

Remove 1/2 the squash from the pan (I did this so I could add it back at the end and have some nice texture to the risotto). Add rice and saute for a couple minutes with the remaining veggies.  Add about a cup of chicken stock and cook over medium heat, stirring often.  When the liquid is almost all absorbed, add more about a 1/2 cup at a time. Continue until the rice is creamy and al dente.

(I think that shadow was my head. My kitchen isn’t really set up well for taking pictures!)

Add the remaining squash back to the pan.  Stir in a chunk of butter and some Parmesan cheese to finish.  Eat and enjoy!  I wasn’t paying enough attention to the clock, but I’m sure this took at least a half an hour.  Worth the time, though – I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well!

Now, if only I can figure out what to do with the acorn and carnival squashes I have waiting…

Anybody have a favorite squash recipe to share?  Any help would be appreciated!