And they're the best reason to pick up pre-cut butternut squash!
Reviewed by Dietitian Annie Nguyen, M.A., RD
When it comes to weeknight dinners, I love a good shortcut. I shamelessly buy pre-cut veggies whenever I can. Not only does it cut down on prep time, but it helps me eat more veggies because they’re so easy to add into meals.
One of my go-tos once fall hits is pre-cut and -peeled butternut squash. I always grab one package (but usually two) each time I shop; they’re perfect for roasting or steaming for a festively autumnal side dish and are ideal for tossing right into soups without the hassle of breaking down a squash.
But my favorite way to use pre-cut squash is in this Butternut Squash & Black Bean Tostadas recipe. It makes one of my favorite types of fall produce doable for weeknights. I even double up on the squash when I make this recipe, so I have steamed squash for the rest of the week (hello, butternut squash pasta!)
Unlike other squash recipes that are super popular once the temperature drops, this recipe doesn’t rely on those classic fall flavors that usually accompany squash, like sage, thyme or brown butter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I could eat butternut squash with sage and brown butter all fall and winter long and be extremely happy, but I love that this recipe offers an alternate preparation.
Smoky chiles like ancho or chipotle are a match made in heaven with sweet and earthy butternut squash. Leftovers of this smoky, sweet squash make a killer breakfast-burrito filling the next day as well. If you have picky eaters at the table, even they will be won over by the winning flavor combination on these tostadas. You can use more or less chile, depending on your taste, or serve it with a dollop of Greek yogurt or creamy avocado to balance the heat.
The best thing about this recipe is that it feels like a restaurant-quality dish with rich flavors and textures. The silky squash and salty cheese team up with the crunchy tostada for a deeply satisfying meal that has the added benefit of fueling your body. Each serving delivers 14 grams of satisfying protein plus nearly 40% of your daily fiber, which is loaded with health benefits, including lowering your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
This dish is also the perfect combo of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Butternut squash is packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and keep your immune system strong. Black beans are not only a great source of fiber and plant-based protein, they boast high levels of antioxidants as well. The anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in legumes like black beans are also linked to lower levels of cancer in some studies. And don’t skip the pepitas; not only do they offer the perfect pop of crunch in this recipe, they can help fight disease and inflammation in the body.
What I love most about this recipe is how easy it is to throw together. I can pull this recipe together in about 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for those nights when I’m staring at a can of beans in my pantry and some lettuce in my fridge, wondering what the heck I can make while my stomach loudly rumbles. Plus, many of the ingredients are already in my kitchen.
While this recipe calls for steaming the squash to give it that perfect soft, fluffy texture, I like to roast it if I have more time or if I'm thinking ahead. Sometimes when I get home from the grocery store, I’ll roast two full packs of pre-cut squash to make my week a bit easier; knowing I can cut down the time for this recipe to about 15 minutes on those nights I just can’t be bothered. And if I’m feeling extra lazy, I won’t even pull out a cutting board; I’ll tear the lettuce by hand and use kitchen shears to cut the scallions—a true lazy meal that’s equally delicious and nutritious.
Read the original article on Eating Well.