Sunday, February 19, 2012

Butternut Squash with Beans and Pumpkin Seeds

"You mean you really don't eat out?" my colleague asked. We were having drinks after a work conference and I confessed I hadn't eaten at any of the restaurants he had been praising.

"I like to cook," I replied. It's true, I prefer to come home and cook rather than eat out--the vast majority of the time. This is not typical Hong Kong behaviour.

"But where do you get ideas for what to make?" he countered.

Good question. I'm sure eating out at some of the many great Hong Kong restaurants would give me lots of ideas. My friend is right that I should make more of an effort to get to some of them. But my ideas are mostly from my imagination, from reading books, and from other food blogs.

About an hour after our discussion I was making this side dish. The idea came from a cookbook that suggested butternut squash could be cooked by pan frying. This struck me as odd; I usually roast or boil winter squashes. But I decided to try it, and this side dish was born. The butternut squash was the palest one I have ever cooked with and a bit hard. Perhaps this led to a long cooking time. Nevertheless, the pan frying gave a pleasant, slight caramelised edge to the squash. It is paired with the comforting texture of kidney beans and some crunchy pumpkin seeds. A dish is born.

Butternut Squash with Beans and Pumpkin Seeds
serves 4 as a side dish

700 g (1.5 lb) butternut squash
2 T olive oil
1 can (400 g) kidney beans, drained
1/4 c (30 g) pumpkin seeds
1/4 c (5 g) chopped parsley

Scoop out the seeds of the squash, peel it and cut into 1 cm cubes.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a very large pan and add the squash. Put the lid on and let the squash cook for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Some sides should caramelise a little.
Add the kidney beans and cook until the beans are warm and the squash is soft.
Remove from the heat and add the pumpkin seeds and parsley.

Where do you get ideas for what to cook?

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