Studies are proving that eating plant foods rich in colours of the rainbow—from dark blue and purple to green, yellow, orange, and red—is the key to good nutrition. Take butternut squash as an example. Its brilliant orange colour indicates it’s chock full of carotenoids, bioflavonoids, and vitamin C, essential to decreasing the risk for certain diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
2 lbs (1 kg) butternut squash
1 tsp (5 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (80 mL) crumbled plain goat cheese
Spicy pickled red onion
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lime zest
1 tsp (5 mL) maple syrup or honey
1/2 tsp (2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp (2 mL) kosher salt
1/2 red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh squeezed lime juice
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Line baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Peel butternut squash to bright orange flesh. Thinly shave top and bottom from squash and cut horizontally down middle to form 2 halves. Scoop out seeds and discard. Brush cut sides of squash with oil and place cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can almost pierce it with a paring knife.
While squash bakes, in small saucepan, heat rice vinegar. Pour into 1 cup (250 mL) heatproof glass jar, such as a canning jar, and stir in lime zest, syrup, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) 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 a couple of weeks.
After squash has been roasting for 15 minutes, remove from oven. On cutting board, place halves cut side down. Using very sharp knife, carefully cut 1/4 in (6 mm) wide slices crosswise into squash, being careful not to cut all the way through (see tip). Slide long spatula under sliced squash and return halves to baking sheet. Return to oven and continue to bake for 20 more minutes or until slices are completely tender but not falling apart.
Prepare Herbed Salsa while squash continues baking. 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 pinch of salt, to taste, if you wish. Store in tightly covered container for up to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).
To serve, remove squash from oven and place onto heated serving platter. Spoon some pickled onions and salsa overtop. Top with crumbled goat cheese and splash with a little extra olive oil, if you wish.