Eating colorful plant foods—from dark blue and purple to green, yellow, orange, and red—is the key to good nutrition and good skin. Take butternut squash as an example. Its brilliant orange color indicates it’s chock-full of carotenoids and vitamin C, which help protect against UV-induced skin damage.
Hasselback butternut squash
2 lb butternut squash, whole
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
1/3 cup crumbled plain vegan soft cheese
Pickled red onion
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Roast the squash: Peel butternut squash to reveal bright orange flesh. Thinly shave top and bottom from squash and cut down middle to form 2 symmetrical halves. Scoop out seeds and discard. Brush cut sides of squash with oil and place cut-side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can almost pierce it with a paring knife.
Make the pickled red onion: While squash roasts, in small saucepan, heat rice vinegar. Pour into 1 cup heatproof glass jar, such as a canning jar, and stir in lime zest, syrup,
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir to dissolve salt. Stir in onion and press down to immerse slices in vinegar. Cover and set aside. Onion can be refrigerated for up to a couple of weeks.
Slice the squash: After squash has been roasting for 15 to 20 minutes, remove from oven. On cutting board, place halves cut-side down. Using very sharp knife, carefully cut 1/4 inch wide slices crosswise into squash, being careful not to cut all the way through. Slide long spatula under sliced squash halves and return them to baking sheet. Return to oven and continue to roast for approximately 20 more minutes, or until slices are completely tender but not falling apart.
Prepare the herbed salsa: While squash continues roasting, in mini blender, combine herbs, oil, garlic, lime juice, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground. Add a splash of water for thinner mixture. Add a pinch of salt, to taste, if you wish. Store in tightly covered container for up to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup.
Assemble the dish: To serve, remove squash from oven and place on heated serving platter. Spoon some pickled onions and salsa over top. Top with crumbled vegan cheese and splash with a little extra olive oil, if you wish.