A few years back my mother made a comment I never thought of before. She was visiting from Peru, where I was born and raised and where we only have two very distinct seasons: summer and winter. In Peru we don’t get to experience the transition between winter and spring or summer and fall like we do in the Pacific Northwest. She said, “I remember growing up and watching my mother paint landscapes. She would always include full color trees: orange, red, and pink. I never knew they really existed. Seeing them is like being in one of her paintings.”
After I heard that, I never looked at fall the same way. The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me. Fall colors are bright and soothing and the air is crisp and fresh. But fall brings so much more than a feast for the eyes: squash, apples, dark leafy greens. Farms are bursting with new varieties of produce, so I make a resolution to try them all!
Butternut squash is my favorite – naturally sweet, versatile, and very “meaty.” Many people assume the only use for butternut squash is in soups, but I like to roast it and keep it in the refrigerator in three different forms: mashed, sliced, and cubed.
- Add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie with dates and cinnamon for a fall twist
- Add it to your pancake batter
- Make pumpkin bread
- Great with creamy sauces, such as mac n’ cheese
- Phenomenal for lasagnas; layer it with béchamel sauce, spinach, and mozzarella for one of the best vegetarian lasagnas you’ve ever had
- Or top it with olive oil, walnuts, and breadcrumbs and broil it for a great side dish
- Use it as a pizza topping
- Include it in stews, curries, soups, and salads
- Glaze it with maple syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt for a sweet and savory side dish
- Toss it with olive oil, pasta, kale, and bacon, with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a hearty supper
As you can see there are many ways to add butternut squash to your fall menu. I hope this is a good start!
In recent years I have learned to appreciate the small things in life. Even though my excitement for butternut squash can be cliché to many, it really does make a big difference when we stop and appreciate nature’s gifts. Countless times a year I say to my family and friends, “Isn’t it amazing that this came out of nature? How good does this taste?!” It’s in the little things that we find contentment and appreciation for the abundance we have. Happy falling!
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador