Getting excited about Butternut Squash

I know this sounds a bit sad but today I discovered that my local supermarket (that’s Sainsburys in the UK) has started selling frozen Butternut Squash.

What’s so exciting about that I hear you ask? Well I love butternut squash – it’s one of the healthiest filling carbs there is. Just the right amount of starchy carbs to be ‘proper carbs’ but enough fibre and vitamins to make them a perfect base for a meal. You can mash them or roast them and incorporate into lots of dishes.

But the big problem with butternut squash is that it’s an absolute pain to prepare. Sometimes I buy one and it just sits in my fridge looking at me. It takes me a good 10 minutes to peel and chop a butternut squash and I like to think I’m quite quick. I’ve bought pre-prepared in the past but it really doesn’t last very long – so you have to use it the next day at the latest.

This is why frozen butternut squash is great. The bags in Sainsburys (and I’m hoping that Sainsburys isn’t the only one – UK supermarkets tend to stock very similar ingredients) contain 500g of cubed butternut squash. You can cook straight from frozen and a 500g bag contains about the right amount for 4 people or portions.

So I bought a pack straight away and I’m making my favourite vegetable chilli right now.

I’ve included the recipe below because it’s a perfect recipe for lunches or dinners on miserable January days and is substantially more filling than a soup. If you’re baking the butternut squash straight from frozen it needs 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes but that’s the only difference.

Vegetable Chilli with Butternut Squash

Makes 4 servings • Ready in 45 minutes

500g chopped butternut squash
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green chilli, seeded and sliced into rings
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Zest and juice 1 lime
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1x400g tin kidney beans in water
Freshly ground pepper

• Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan.
• Place the butternut squash on a baking tray, sprinkle over the cinnamon and season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle over 1 tsp of olive oil and toss through with your hands. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until just tender.
• Meanwhile, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, green pepper and chilli. Fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and lime zest and cook for a further minute or two. Add the chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder and salt. Stir through before adding the chopped tomatoes and kidney beans (including the water).
• Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook, lid off, for about 30 minutes. Add the butternut squash and lime juice and stir through gently. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely (this allows the flavours to develop) before storing as four individual portions. Reheat on the hob or in the microwave before serving.