Now is the Time for Squash: Eat Right with a Favorite Fall Recipe

Man.  When I was a kid I hated squash (further proof that kids are dumb ;).  Seriously, just the mention of it would send me into a fit of convulsions.

But I’m reformed.  I now recognize that squash is amazing and incredible!  Especially winter varieties which are much more flavorful than their summer brethren.

The coolest part is that squash is also really good for you.  Each serving comes packed with fiber and tons of Vitamin A and C. (In fact, hubbard squash has twice the fiber and 28 times more vitamin A than the same amount of zucchini.  It’s also a great source of potassium!)

I’ve been putting my winter squash into easy baked dishes that I make en masse  and then eat throughout the week.  This is a recipe for a recent favorite (it’s baked in the oven in a casserole dish) taken from Precision Nutrion‘s "Gourmet Nutrition" cookbook:

Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast – cubed
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed*
2 apples, peeled and cubed
1.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup shredded lowfat havarti (or other good melting cheese)
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

First things first: preheat your oven to 375

Coat a casserole dish, cake pan, or other oven-style baking dish (with high walls) with olive oil spray or similar non-stick agent of choice.  In a skillet, heat up the olive oil on low and then add your onions.  It is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people burn onions – cook them on low until they become clear!  This should take 12-15 minutes.  While the onions are cooking, you can chop your choppables. 

When the onions are ready, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Long enough to cook the outside of the chicken pieces, but not the inside.  Add these together with all other ingredients (except cheese) in a bowl, mix well, and then transfer to your coated baking receptacle. 

Now, throw this in the oven, set a timer for 45 minutes, and go watch football.  At 45 minutes or so (make sure your squash has cooked thoroughly) pull it out, throw the shredded cheese on top, crank Ye Olde Oven to broil and re-set your timer for 3 minutes.  The cheese will come out melty and delicious.

I’m not even going to tell you the nutritional values on this thing because it’s so healthy it will make you sick!  Just eat it! :)

 

*Tip for peeling and cubing your squash:  Because winter squashes have thick skin, skip the handheld peeler and go grab your big kitchen knife. (Yeah!)  Then do this:

First cut off both ends of the squash to create flat surfaces that will stabilize it on your cutting board. If it is a bulbous variety (such as butternut squash), separate the rounded part from the narrow section and peel the two pieces separately; they will both be easier to handle.

Next, stand a piece of squash on the cutting board, and hold it firmly at the top. Place your knife along the side of the squash and cut downward, away from your hand, leaving as much of the squash flesh intact as possible. Then invert the squash on your cutting board to remove any remaining skin at the other end.

 

PS – Life is busy. Things get crazy. I love my readers and don’t want you to miss out on anything. If you enjoy reading, consider subscribing for updates delivered to your inbox every 2 or 3 weeks, along with occasional exclusive content that won’t be posted to the blog.  Also, if you have a question, please contact me with it.  I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. heidiswift (at) gmail (dot) com

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8 comments

  1. I love winter squash, and your recipe sounds pretty good, I might just try it out! I would be leaving out the cheese and oil though, and use NSA (no salt added) broth. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Hey JoLynn,
    Thanks for stopping by. Your comment is actually very prescient – one of my upcoming posts this week has to do with the importance of fat in a balanced nutrition strategy!
    Don’t fear the olive oil, says I. :)
    Cheers,
    Heidi

  3. I love this recipe! I love squash more than I can really articulate over the interwebs. especially butternut, spaghetti, and acorn. Oh so damn good.

    I might modify it by adding some roasted garlic (the sweetness of it could go v. well with the apple), and I might use a goat cheese instead of havarti, but that looks really good and easy.

    And I’m with you–don’t fear the olive oil. I think if I were afraid of olive oil my membership to the Short Greek Mama’s Club would have to be revoked.

  4. I am so making this. Minus the chicken. I’ll have to use “Chik’n” cutlets. hahahaha. Oh fake veg meat, so weird. I’ll have to go to Sauvie Island on Saturday and pick up some squash.

  5. I`m going to make this tonight, I think I will toss in a little coconut milk and curry.

  6. Yum.
    Sounds good, Guy! My only other advice is to not cook the chicken too much when you saute it. I’m still working on perfecting this so that the chicken comes out of the oven soft and yummy, not overdone. Chicken breast is so tricky that way.
    The squash, apple, and cumin work special magic together… I just finished off the batch that I made for this week!

  7. Question: this recipe, how many servings is it? And can you give the nutrition breakdown?

    :)
    stephanopoulos

    PS–I wonder if you were to cover most of the casserole in tin foil, to create a sort of steam-like environment, and take foil off when you put on the cheese for melting and browning. Maybe that would work.

    OR if you, instead of broiling, if you baked at 425 degrees. Or added the smallest amount of chicken broth to add moisture and facilitate steaming?

  8. Last night I tried this squash recipe. I made a couple of alterations:

    1. I upped the heat to 400 degrees. More than anything else, this was my own mis-remembering of temperature.
    2. I baked for 40 minutes (at that temp I likely could have baked for 35 even…).
    3. For the first 30 minutes, I kept tin foil over the baking dish. In heeding your comments about chicken not drying out, it seemed appropriate to create a sort of steam-like environment.

    Result: chicken was not overcooked and dry (though it was not as juicy as it tends to be when I do a quick-grill in my countertop grille). The downside is that my dinner didn’t wind up with as much of a nice brown, baked glow to it, but I think that some adjustments should be made to this. My learnings:

    1. Next time I will try the 375 degrees instead of 400. My oven gets really hot really easily, so I think even with keeping the intended temperature I can still cook this in like 35-ish minutes.
    2. I will lessen the amount of chicken broth and supplement the rest with water. It will thin the broth out enough to provide better evaporation for steam once I remove the tin foil while still keeping that nice brothy flavor. I might even reduce the amount of overall liquid just a smidge, because I found more liquid in my pan than I tend to like.
    3. At 20 minutes I will remove the tin foil so that I leave enough time for evaporation.

    In general, this was so tasty. I love the smell of cumin (it’s a food orgasm sort of smell for me), but I don’t cook with it often. I get a bit skeptical, because I don’t have much experience with cooking w/ it. But you’re right–there is some strange magic in the squash-apple-cumin mixture. So good!!! And I have a very lovely tupperware of this sitting in my fridge at work for today’s lunch. Yummy!!!

    I wonder what it would taste like to supplement caraway seeds instead of cumin. And maybe a low fat feta or goat cheese.

    Tonight when I make it home from my day I am trying the chocolate ricotta dessert recipe from Gourmet Dessert. I flipped through all of those recipes yesterday evening wondering if I can just cut all of the splenda/agave syrup/etc. amounts in the recipes that use protein powder, as the Jay Robb stuff is VERY sweet as it is. Hmm.

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