Every autumn season, I am going to devote an entire post to the glory that is found within squash. Be it acorn, butternut, kabocha, spaghetti – I am an avid fan of each and every one of these and feel these vegetables need to be profiled accordingly. Butternut and acorn squash are the types of squash most readily found at farms and supermarkets alike, so I selected recipes based on these two squashes to cook on a crisp, amber-lit autumn evening.
Butternut squash yields a taste similar to that of a sweet potato, which is why this squash is found prominently in soups. They lack the stringy quality found in most of the other squashes, which also serves as an added bonus when handling, cutting, or roasting. Butternut is my favorite of the all, for it is not as sweet as acorn, but still possesses a sweet, almost nutty flavor. So good — in my opinion — that it hardly requires any seasoning. Acorn squash, on the other hand, possesses a sweeter taste than butternut squash. Acorn squash bakes easily, as one can simply slice a small acorn squash in half and stuff it with various flavor accompaniments. Both are incredibly satisfying to eat and make indulging in leftovers a joyous occasion.
I have had a burning desire to ingest pork this fall for whatever reason, so I looked no further than the recipe on domesticate-me.com. Chipotle Pork Tenderloin Butternut Squash Tacos encompass everything I crave in a dinner: herbs, meat, cheese, starch, vegetables, with a slight kick in the way of spice. In other words: chipotle pulled pork, queso fresco cheese, cilantro, cinnamon-roasted butternut squash tacos. Enough said.
The acorn squash with dates and thyme rounded out the squash-themed night. The dates, coupled with coconut oil, add even more sweetness to the dish. The addition of the roasted garlic and thyme adds a savory element to the sweeter ingredients, and helps yield a more harmonious combination of flavors.
After cooking both of these and eating them rather hastily, I cannot deny that I overindulged. Most of my fullness can be attributed to the squash found in both dishes. The chipotle pork flavor, combined with the cinnamon-roasted butternut squash cubes, made for a standout dinner with plenty of leftovers. I enjoyed the acorn squash dish too, for it quelled my desire to indulge in dessert. This is just the tip of the iceberg, for I am looking forward to crafting many more squash dishes during the remainder of fall and well into the winter. Infinite possibilities.
Chipotle Pork Tenderloin & Butternut Squash Tacos
Recipe from domesticate-me.com
1½ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1½ lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
½ large yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped (If you’re not into spicy, you can seed your chipotle pepper, or only use ½ a pepper.)
1 tbsp. adobo sauce from the chipotle can
1 lime, juiced
1½ tbsp. honey
¾ c. tomato puree
¾ c. low-sodium chicken stock
3 c. cubed butternut squash (¾-inch cubes)
½ tsp. cinnamon
8 small flour or corn tortillas
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
In a medium bowl, combine the salt, ground cumin and chipotle chili powder. Add the pork tenderloin pieces and toss, making sure each piece is well coated in the spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate the pork while you prepare your sauce. (You can also leave your spice rubbed pork in the fridge over night if you happen to be a planner.)
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes until the onions become translucent and the garlic is fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the garlic, people! Add the chopped chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice, honey, tomato puree and chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.When boiling, add the spice rubbed pork to the sauce and lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Moving on to the butternut squash! Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or tinfoil and spray it with cooking spray. Briefly set aside.
Place the cubed butternut squash in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the cinnamon and toss to coat. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. 20 minutes before your pork is done (so after 40 minutes of cooking…just wanted to help you with the math), transfer the squash to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until the cubes are very tender.
After 1 hour, use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove your cooked pork from the sauce and place it on a cutting board. Leave the sauce simmering uncovered while you pull your pork. Using 2 forks, pull (that means shred) your pork.
Return the shredded pork to the sauce and continue cooking uncovered for about five minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Microwave your tortillas for about 15-20 seconds.
Top each tortilla with your chipotle pork and butternut squash. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a generous sprinkling of queso fresco, and fresh lime wedges.
(Acorn) Squash with Dates & Thyme
Recipe from the October 2014 issue of Bon Appétit
3 small acorn squash (about 3 lb.), scrubbed, cut into 1/2″ wedges
1/2 bunch thyme
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil or unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 dates, pitted and quartered
Flaky Maldon sea salt
Preheat oven to 425. Toss squash, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and coconut oil in a large baking dish; season with kosher salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 40–45 minutes. Add dates; toss to coat. Roast until squash are very tender and dates are soft, 12–15 minutes.
Arrange squash, dates, garlic, and thyme on a platter, spoon any oil in dish over squash, and sprinkle with sea salt.