I hope you have had a wonderful week. Mine has been great, full of long walks outside, a few yoga classes, plenty of playtime in the kitchen, and relaxing time with family. Other than all things squash, there has been a common theme on my mind all week - SIMPLICITY.
What is simplicity and what does it mean to me? If you'd asked me this question years ago, I may have answered that simplicity is plain or boring, bland or dull. Lifeless, colorless, formless. But that's not how I view simplicity today. I find simplicity to be heart-warming and joyful, a quality that is full of what matters and leaves the extras behind.
Where can I find simplicity? In my day-to-day routine, simplicity is everywhere! For example, I wash my face with an appropriately-nourishing cleanser, but I do not apply a half dozen creams, serums, and "beauty potions" to my skin; I know that the cleanser I choose to use is all that I need. That's simplicity. Or my current exercise routine, which is a long, rambling walk in my neighborhood; I pass beautiful gardens, see lots of deer, and get a great workout in the process. That's simplicity - no driving to the gym and climbing on cardio machines. There are areas of my life that could use some help in the simplifying department; my nightstand is piled high with books - some I'm reading, others I want to read. I have a hunch that if I pared-down the pile to just one or two books, I'd find my reading list more manageable and approachable.
What about simplicity in the kitchen? Do you ever open a cookbook and find a delicious recipe to make, but the ingredient list is a mile long? How does one tackle that kind of recipe, especially when time is of essence? Today's recipe is the complete opposite of that situation! Only 3 ingredients are needed - ok 4, if you count patience as a necessary ingredient.
Since we're in my month of squash recipes, I've created today's recipe from another common winter squash variety - Acorn squash. There are lots of Acorn squash recipes in cookbooks and online, they're usually some form of roasted Acorn squash...so I wanted to approach the preparation differently, but still with ease and simplicity. I've now made this Acorn Squash Butter several times, and each batch I enjoy more and more. Have you ever made a fruit butter? Don't worry, there's no dairy butter in this recipe. The butter refers to the process of cooking the fruit (squash in this recipe) and then the texture it achieves. My Acorn Squash Butter is smooth and silky, thick and spreadable, with just a slight bit of tanginess to make it addictive.
Now that I constantly have a jar of Acorn Squash Butter in my refrigerator, I'm finding plenty of uses for it everyday. My favorite way to enjoy it is on a piece of toast, with some fresh goat cheese or coconut cream spread on first, then topped with some pepitas or toasted squash seeds. Another way I've eaten the butter is swirled into my plain yogurt, where it becomes a sweet element against the tart flavor of the yogurt. I've also just eaten the butter with a spoon, straight from the jar...no shame there!
Give my Acorn Squash Butter recipe a try, let me know your thoughts. I'm always excited when you make my recipes!
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Acorn Squash Butter
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1 acorn squash
1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t sea salt, or more, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Wash the squash with warm water and dry thoroughly. Cut the squash in half, from stem to bottom, with a very sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and membranes, reserving in a bowl*. Place the squash halves cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, until soft, tender and aromatic. Remove from the oven to cool.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out all of the flesh and place in a food processor. Blend the squash into a smooth purée. Remove from the food processor to a small saucepan.
Place the saucepan on the stove over low heat. The squash should barely simmer, the temperature must be very low to prevent scorching. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash’s moisture has completely evaporated and the squash has thickened into a paste. This may take anywhere from half an hour to a full hour, depending on the ripeness and the moisture content of the squash. Once the squash has thickened, add the lemon juice and 1/4 t sea salt. Stir to combine and taste. Continue to cook the squash for an additional 10 minutes to blend the lemon and salt into the squash. Remove from the heat.
Allow the squash to cool to room temperature before storing in a pint-sized glass jar. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 7-10 days.
* The reserved squash seeds can be dried, roasted, and eaten along with the squash butter! Separate the seeds from the membranes and rinse under cool water. Drain completely, then dry on a baking sheet at room temperature until all of the moisture is gone. At this point, either place the seeds in a jar and put away for another time, or roast the seeds. To roast, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Toss the dried seeds with 1 T extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 t sea salt. Add other spices (cinnamon or garlic), if desired. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, toasted and fragrant. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and enjoy. Keep any leftovers in a sealed container at room temperature.
recipe yields approximately 1-1/2 cups of acorn squash butter
use the butter as a spread on toast or swirled into a bowl of unsweetened yogurt; top with roasted seeds, if desired
process squash butter in a hot water bath (follow canning instructions) to keep for longer than 7-10 days