There many varieties of winter squash: butternut, sweet dumpling, hakido, acorn, delicata, kabocha and red kuri to name a few. This is the perfect time of year to take advantage of their versatility, deliciousness and ease. For a quick and easy side, simply cut open, take the seeds out, rub with a little olive oil, place face down on a baking tray and bake at 200C until a knife is easily inserted. Soup, curries, side dishes, gnocchi, ravioli filling and salads are all that much better with a bit of seasonal sweetness from squash. It’s also very low in carbs, but leaves you fully satisfied.
Pesto isn’t just limited to basil. In the summer take full advantage of the fragrant herb, but when it’s cold use other tasty greens such as spinach, rocket, parsley or a combination of the about. I tend to use nutritional yeast instead of cheese as I always have it on hand and it adds a nice flavour as well as a boost of B vitamins. Cashew are my favourite nut to use in pesto, but seeds are nice to. Make the recipe a couple of times, then start experimenting with different herbs/greens and nuts/seeds. Enjoy!

Winter Squash with Butter Beans and Pesto

1 winter squash (I used butternut)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tin butter beans, rinsed

Turn grill on high or oven to 200C. Peel (if desired) squash and place on baking tray. Drizlle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and place in the oven or under the grill. In the oven, cook for 10 minutes, flip and return to oven. Check again after 10 minutes, if a knife is easily inserted, add butter beans and return to oven for 5 minutes. Under the grill, cook for 5-8 minutes, flip and return to grill. Check again after 5 minutes, if a knife is easily inserted, add butter beans and return to grill for 2 minutes. Arrange squash and butter beans on a serving plate and drizzle with pesto.

Spinach Pesto

10-15 large leaves of spinach
1 clove garlic
handful cashews or pine nuts
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, reserve 3 tbsp
pinch of salt
2 tsp nutritional yeast
juice of half a lemon

Combine all ingredients except reserve olive oil, whiz with hand blender or food processor until finely chopped, adding a bit more oil if needed. Scrap into a bowl and mix in reserve olive oil. Taste and adjust, adding more garlic, lemon or salt.

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