“Who wants to eat an ugly thing like that?” asked Will, staring down a decidedly unpleasant-looking butternut squash.
“Someone’s done an awesome job,” said Vinny looking at the expertly carved squash on the screen. “But the sculpture is not really so surprising. Butternut is called a pumpkin in Australia, and everybody loves carving faces into pumpkins, right?”
“The scowl is all wrong,” said Isla. “Butternuts are really sweet so they should’ve made her look happier.”
“I bet we can make her look happier,” said Vinny. “Let’s dress her up with ricotta and take her to dinner with Sweet Potato.” The children got started.
Butternut squash stuffed with ricotta and sweet potato
Serves 2 mains or 6 sides
- 1 butternut squash, about 2.5 pounds (about 1 kilogram), cut in half lengthwise
- 1 sweet potato, scrubbed and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (5 grams) powdered sage, or 4 fresh leaves finely chopped
- 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (4 ounces/125 grams)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (half ounce/15 grams)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use Silpat.
- Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy stuff.
- Place the squash halves and the sweet potato halves cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Roast until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork, 40-50 minutes.
- While the veggies are roasting, melt the coconut oil in a non-stick pan or skillet over low heat. Add the onion and saute until browned at the edges, about 15 minutes. Stir in the sage and salt and saute another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside..
- Check the veggies. The potato may be ready sooner than the squash. Remove the cooked veggies from oven and turn the squash cut-side up.
- When they are cool enough that you can handle the veggies, peel the potatoes and put the soft flesh in a large mixing bowl.
- Scoop the insides from the squash and put it into your mixing bowl. Leave a half-inch border on the skin so that the squash halves hold their shape.
- With a fork or potato masher, mash the roasted squash and potatoes until smooth.
- Add the cooked onions, ricotta, egg, Parmesan, and pepper. Stir thoroughly to combine. Scoop the mixture into the two squash halves and return to the oven until the tops begin to brown and the mash heats through, 15-20 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- This recipe is very adaptable. Use any combo of ricotta, goat cheese or 0% Greek yogurt or even just one of them. Use all butternut squash or all sweet potato or any mix (quantity not vital). I’ve presented my fave, here. But let me know if you like it another way.
- The natural sweetness of the squash and sweet potato means you don’t need to add any sugar, a huge health bonus.
- Serve your squash filling in the skin, like we did, or dish it straight onto the plate. Or use it as a soup base.
- If your recipe calls for peeling squash before cooking it, look for peeled and cubed squash in the produce section. Peeling a raw squash is brutal.
Butternut squash One cup has four times the vitamin A you need every day, as well as half your vitamin C needs. These vitamins are needed for healthy skin and hair — you’ll glow with vitality! You’ll also see better. Vitamin A reduces the risk of colon and prostate cancer and lowers your risk of asthma. These two vitamins also boost your overall immunity to disease.
One cup of butternut squash also gives you more potassium than a banana. This mineral is essential to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Most people are sorely lacking in potassium and need a boost. Increasing orange veggies in your diet is a good way.
The fiber in squash helps balance your blood sugar and protects against diabetes, helps maintain a healthy weight, and promotes a healthy gut.
Fats The vitamin A and other nutrients in the squash and sweet potato are fat-loving. So we need to add a little healthy fat to the dish, to make sure these nutrients are absorbed into our bodies. I used low-fat ricotta to reduce the saturated fat in the dish, a fat that is still thought to be linked to heart disease. To supply healthier fats, I used coconut oil and 1 egg. It’s saturated fats, not dietary cholesterol, that pumps up the cholesterol in our blood and damages the heart.
Don’t waste your precious butternut squash by carving an ugly face into it. Dress it up and enjoy its treasure-chest of nutritious goodness.