If you are anything like me, you are always on the look-out for great new healthy side dishes, especially if they will work for holiday meals. Today’s recipe, Butternut Squash Roasted with Pears and Red Walnuts is from Lori Rice of Fake Food Free and is a gorgeous celebration of the flavors and produce of the harvest season.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is such a blessing. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places on earth, with the Golden Gate Bridge, the sun sparkling on the waves in the bay, and of course San Francisco itself. We have some of the best produce and proteins in the country, a veritable bounty all year long.
We can find nearly anything we want any time. We have the largest growing region in the United State, known as the Central Valley, and it provides much of the produce people enjoy daily. It stretches nearly the length of California, over 450 miles and encompasses about 22,500 square miles. This one valley produces about half of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the country!
Last year, Lori and her husband moved from the Bay Area to the Central Valley, discovering another new-to-them area on the west coast. If there is one thing Lori is good at, it’s creating an exciting opportunity everywhere she goes. In a short time she has settled in, is making new friends (not hard for her), and making new business contacts.
As a professional photographer, Lori finds beauty in everything and we are incredibly lucky she shares it with us on her website. She collaborates with her clients to create photos that bring their ideas to reality. She specializes in food photography, working from the producers to the plate and everything in between. She does recipe development, cooking, food and prop styling, content creation, and copywriting. This is a woman with a vision that captures the vital moments in a remarkable way. I am in awe of her talents!
On Fake Food Free she shares her beliefs in creating non-processed meals from scratch, exploring the flavors and interactions of different foods and seasonings. She puts together unusual combinations that nab our imaginations and change our ideas of what can work. And I love that she isn’t afraid of her Grandmother’s recipes that are packed with sugar and butter. Making this from scratch gives you the freedom to enjoy these special childhood memories.
Today’s recipes is a perfect example of combining creative ingredients. Even with they typically sweetened butternut squash and pears, Lori has created a savory dish that will have you and your guests going back for seconds and possibly even thirds!
Using onions, chili powder and cumin give this a Mexican flavor profile. But the addition of cinnamon and black pepper amp it up, giving you a fascinating pop of spice in every bite. You will have this on your table in under 30 minutes, just what we need on crazy days like Thanksgiving when everything can implode in the kitchen. Having at least one dish that is simple and solid can save the day!
Enjoy this delightful recipe, great as a side dish or adding a few more vegetables can turn it into a vegetarian entrée. I personally could eat an entire bowl all by myself. Thanks Lori!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You can use pre-cut squash, which saves you a ton of prep time, available at many grocers around the country. Also red walnuts are beautiful and add a lovely red’ish hue to the dish, but you can use any type of walnut you have on hand.
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, the only place it may hide is in the chili powder. Seasoning blends may have gluten ingredients, so always read the labels carefully. If you have any question, contact the manufacturer.
Kitchen Skill: Easily Preparing Winter Squashes
Winter squashes, including butternut, are notoriously difficult to work with. It takes a very heavy, extremely sharp knife and a ton of pressure to cut. But microwave it first! This softens it just enough to make it much easier to cut, clean and peel. Poke a few holes in the squash and microwave for 8 minutes. Set it aside to cool until you can comfortably handle it. Cut the “neck” of the squash off, set the rounded end on the cut surface and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and string, peel the skin off the squash, and cut into cubes.
- 2-1/2 lb peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 1 large firm pear, cored and cubed
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp fine ground sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
- For details on how to make this remarkable dish, head over to Lori's blog and while you're there, be sure to check out her other recipes too. Grab a cup of coffee because you're going to be there a long time - her work is fabulous!
- Yield: 6 servings
To learn more about Lori, follow her food adventures and discover her delicious recipes, make sure you visit Fake Food Free and subscribe so you don’t miss any postings!
Create a New Tradition Today!
While I am taking care of my husband after his stroke, some of my friends have generously offered to help me out with the blog. Thanks for understanding my sporadic posting and have fun discovering these incredibly talented food writers and recipe developers. Enjoy!
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