I am all about efficiency. When I look at most of my summer and fall days, I have five distinct blocks of time. There’s before training- which is a blur of coffee and scanning the day’s headlines and training plan. Then there is morning training, followed by the “between hours.” After the between hours I have afternoon training, which leads naturally to the late night hours (and by late night I mean 7 and 9:30 p.m.). And after second training (i.e. when I’m tired, the sun has gone to bed and I just wait until it is socially acceptable for me to do the same) I am essentially useless. So when I have to get things done…it happens during the between hours.
Some days the between hours consist of phone calls back-to-back. Sometimes it entails three hours of blogging and emailing, and yet others it involves planning recipes, prepping meals, and my favorite activity grocery shopping. So naturally I appreciate people with a love of all things efficient, which leads me to my love of efficient food.
While the Butternut Squash is not normally classified as efficient (removing the skin and chopping these suckers into bite size pieces not only takes about a year, it is also one of the more terrifying kitchen tasks). But once the squash is chopped…this is one versatile vegetable.
For one, it is an awesome source of lasting energy in the form of a high quality carb. And in the endurance world, everyone is all about figuring out how to add more high quality carbs to their diets. For two, it tastes delicious. And for three, the subtle sweetness lends itself well to both savory and sweet dishes…making the butternut squash a highlight of fall produce.
Take the time to peel and chop- I’ve found an episode of friends playing in the background really helps the process along-and you’ll have a delicious base or addition to meals for a week.
First, how to roast a butternut squash.
One large butternut squash (about 7 cups chopped into 1/4 inch cubes)
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (you can get whole nutmegs in most bulk sections of the grocery store. If you can’t find one (and you only need one!), pre-ground nutmeg will do in a pinch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Peel and chop your butternut squash (here’s a good link for those who don’t have a good method yet!). While your prepping the squash, preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Mix nutmeg, olive oil, and sea salt in a large bowl. Add prepared squash to the seasoning bowl, and mix until well coated. Spread in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes. At 25 minutes I like to crank the oven to broil, and leave in oven for just a couple minutes- this gives the squash nice warm and slightly crispy edges. Keep a close eye during this step- it is really easy to burn the squash! Remove from oven, let cool, and your squash is primed for efficiency.
Recipe One: New York Times Buckwheat Tart
This recipe is pretty involved, but if you prepare all of the fillers and crust ahead of time, it will come together no problem for dinner. Or prepare the night before, and have it all ready for brunch the next day!
Recipe (or really non-recipe) Two: Elaborate Snacking
Place one cup of your prepared butternut squash into a small bowl. Top with 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt, one tablespoon nut butter of choice (I used almond), one tablespoon of your favorite granola (I opted for Purely Elizabeth’s pumpkin fig because fall), a dash of cinnamon and a little drizzle of maple syrup. That’s it!
Recipe Three: Fall Salad
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2-3 cups lettuce, kale, swiss chard, spinach..any leafy green will work!
4 ounces leftover protein (I used some chicken Italian sausage from a previous dinner
1 Cup of prepared butternut squash
1/4 of an apple (being from Minnesota I naturally used a Honeycrisp- Minnesota invented that variety!), sliced
1/2 of an avocado, sliced
1/8 cup roughly chopped walnuts (toasted if you’re feeling fancy)
Small handful peashoots
Mix dressing ingredients until well combined. Toss with your leafy greens of choice. Place tossed greens onto a plate and artfully (if you want to instagram it) place each of the remaining ingredients on top. Enjoy!