Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous

Butternut Squash Couscous

When people are talking about alternatives to rice or potatoes as a side dish, they often list couscous along with grains such as barley, bulgar and buckwheat. But yes, I know, couscous is not a grain. It just looks like one ’cause it’s all cute and tiny. In reality couscous is actually grains of semolina, which is durum wheat, and is the same stuff that makes up pasta. So technically couscous is just unformed pasta? Well, that is something I’ll leave up to the food debaters (yes, there are such things as food debaters). For our purposes, this yummy dish will serve 6-8 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
⅓ cup dark or golden raisins
4 ¼ cups vegetable broth
1 (540ml) can chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 ½ cups couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves*
¼ cup (1 ounce) almonds, chopped

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:

Halve and peel the squash. Remove the seeds and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon of the cumin and cook for another minute. Stir in the squash, tomatoes, raisins, broth, chickpeas, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until the squash is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups water and the remaining cumin and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the liquid has absorbed into the couscous and it is tender, fluff it gently with a fork.

Divide the couscous among individual bowls and ladle the squash over the top. Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds.

Curry-Scented Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, 2 ½ lbs or about 6 cups, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
2 large sweet apples such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
3 medium onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable stock
1 container (8 oz/250 g) mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream and snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter in over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until curry powder is fragrant. Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle about one-third of the squash mixture into blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour blended soup into a stand-by bowl for holding while you blend the rest of the soup. Repeat two times with remaining squash mixture. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender, you can use this rather than transferring the soup. Return soup to stock pot and whisk in mascarpone and salt until mascarpone is completely incorporated. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with additional stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and remove from heat. Garnish each serving with sour cream and chives, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Bonus – When scooping out the seeds from your squash, do NOT throw them away! Clean them under running water to remove any residue, and then toss them with a little oil and spices of your liking. With this soup, since it has a curry flavour, you can toss a little curry powder or even cinnamon or nutmeg on the seeds, along with some salt and pepper. Then spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. You should just keep an eye on them, as seeds tend to burn quickly! Once done, remove from them oven and toss a few on top of each soup serving as a nice crunchy garnish.

Butternut Squash and Orzo with Fresh Sage

Butternut

This milchig side dish is delicious enough to be a main when served with a big salad and some crusty bread. Fresh sage really makes this dish, and I would not recommend using dried. Refer to the produce checking page to learn how to check sage for insects. You can sometimes find frozen diced squash in the freezer section at the grocer. If so, this is a huge time saver; not only in the prep but in cooking time as well.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter/margarine
1 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups butternut squash, cubed
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup orzo
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash cubes and stir to coat. Add ½ cup broth and wine. Cover and simmer until squash is just tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Bring remaining 3 ½ cups of broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add orzo. Boil uncovered until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain if necessary. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in squash mixture, then cheese and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper.