alive logo

Butternut Squash Mole

Serves 6.


    Butternut Squash Mole

    The cornerstone of Mexican cuisine and famously complex, mole sauce typically takes days to prepare. This recipe cuts down on the prep and cooking time significantly, yet still yields a deeply flavourful, chocolate-kissed sauce that perfectly complements roasted butternut squash, earthy black beans, and zesty pickled onion.


    Sauce boss

    Play within the framework of this recipe to vary the mole as you wish: nut or seed butters to make it creamy, different dried fruits for sweetness, your favourite roasted chilies for heat, and your favourite chocolate for body and richness. 


    Butternut Squash Mole


      • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut into very thin semicircles
      • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (60 mL + 15 mL) lime juice, divided
      • 3/4 tsp (3 mL) kosher salt, divided
      • 1 medium butternut squash
      • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed oil or avocado oil
      • 15 oz (425 g) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
      • 15 oz (425 g) can black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
      • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
      • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
      • 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
      • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) adobo sauce (from chipotle chili peppers)
      • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
      • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
      • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
      • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
      • 1/4 cup (60 mL) smooth almond butter, peanut butter, or sunflower seed butter
      • 3 oz (85 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped, plus extra for garnish
      • Cilantro for garnish (optional)


      Per serving:

      • calories244
      • protein6 g
      • total fat16 g
        • sat. fat5 g
      • total carbohydrates25 g
        • sugars8 g
        • fibre7 g
      • sodium322 mg



      Place large, rimmed baking tray in oven before preheating oven to 400 F (200 C).


      In medium-sized stainless steel or glass bowl, place thinly sliced onion along with 1/4 cup (60 mL) lime juice and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Scrunch mixture with your hands until onions have wilted slightly and set aside while preparing rest of dish.


      To prepare butternut squash, peel, cut in half lengthwise, deseed, and cut each half crosswise into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) semicircles. Place in large bowl along with oil and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Toss to combine, then tumble onto preheated baking tray, spreading out into a single layer. Roast squash until tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes.


      Meanwhile, prepare mole sauce. To bowl of blender, add diced tomatoes along with their liquid, three quarters of the black beans, garlic, onion, chipotle chili pepper, adobo sauce, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, dates, and remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lime juice and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Purée until smooth.


      Transfer smooth sauce to medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, while stirring often, and cook for 4 minutes. Add almond butter and chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat.


      To serve, spread warm mole sauce in thick layer over bottom of serving platter. Pile roasted squash on top and scatter with remaining black beans and drained, pickled red onions. If desired, finely grate some extra unsweetened chocolate overtop and garnish with cilantro. Consider serving this dish accompanied by soft corn tortillas to mop up all the delicious mole.



      SEE MORE »
      Poached Sablefish and Bok Choy with Lemongrass, Ginger, and Chili
      Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

      Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

      B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.