black beans

Mexican Kabocha Squash Skillet

Who else has skin that hates the dry winter weather? For the past two years I have developed painfully dry hands, but the funny thing is, it only affects two of my fingertips. I’m not kidding! My left hand stays hydrated after numerous hand-washes at work and at home, but my right hand has two stubborn fingers that dry out quite badly and I find myself constantly applying lotion. It is annoying to say the least!

Since that is the case, I’m all about cooking things that require very little dishes to wash; to be honest, this is what I’m always all about! The less time my hands can spend under running water doing clean up the better. So, I’m relying on easy, one-bowl, or in this case one-skillet, recipes when meal prepping my lunches.

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This week I’ve come up with a hearty winter squash bake gone Mexican style! Kabocha squash is one of my favorite winter squashes because you can eat the skin no problem, and it’s not overly sweet like I find a delicata to be. To go with the squash, I decided to use dried black beans I had in the cupboard that were begging to be soaked and cooked up. Pairing squash and beans is quite typical in Mexican culture as these two foods, along with corn, have a beneficial relationship when grown side by side in the fields. They’re called the Three Sisters, and when paired together you end up with a complete protein, which goes to show that animal protein isn’t the only way to get all your protein building blocks! With the spirit of Mexico in mind, I was guided to flavors like chili and cumin to heat up the dish. Finally, I stuck with melty cow’s cheese for the finishing touch, but if you’re wanting to keep this recipe vegan I’d recommend trying out Siete Foods Cashew Queso.

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This quick skillet bake had the house smelling amazing and I’m excited to be digging in to it for lunch! And all that’s left to clean up is the skillet- maybe I should give my hands a break and have my husband take care of that, right?

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Mexican Kabocha Squash Skillet- serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 small-medium kabocha squash, or about 2 cups cubed squash

  • 1 small poblano pepper, chopped

  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 cups black beans

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1.5 cups shredded cheese, mix of cheddar and monterey

  • To serve: 1 lime and avocado slices

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare kabocha squash by cutting in half width-wise, scoop out the seeds, and cut squash into half moon strips about 1/2 inch size. Then cut squash moons into small 1/2 inch cubes. Place two cups of cubed squash into a 8 inch cast iron skillet and add chopped poblano and bell pepper. Toss vegetables with a bit of avocado oil. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until squash is fork-tender. Remove skillet from oven.

  2. To the skillet, add black beans, canned tomatoes, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt. Mix everything together so that spices are evenly mixed in. Create an even layer of the mixture in the skillet and top with shredded cheese. Return skillet to heated oven and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. If you’d like, slide it under the broiler for a few minutes for a crispy cheese crust on top.

  3. Serve with a squeeze of lime and a few avocado slices. This serves two hungry people for a dinner main course, or can be divided into 3 portions for lunch to be served with snacks.

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Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

Lately I've been challening myself to eat a mostly plant-based diet after reading the fascinating work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell in The China Study. While I am by no means a vegan and could absolutely NOT live without eggs, cheese, or yogurt, I do get bored of the same ol' chicken breast, turkey burgers, and seafood dinners, so I am challenging myself- or rather, enjoying experimenting- with adding more beans and legumes in my meals.

These Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas were a quick and easy product of my forray into a plant-based diet, and lucky for me, the whole batch was all mine to enjoy (who else is living with a no bean eater?).

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What I love about this recipe is the ease in which it lends itself to meal prepping. I took advantage of a low-key weeknight to peel, dice, and roast my butternut squash, so that these enchiladas would come together in a snap the night I planned to eat them. And, bonus (!) there was plenty of leftover roasted squash ready to be added to other lunches and dinners throughout the week.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Black bean Enchiladas- serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups peeled, diced, roasted butternut squash

  • 1 cup black beans

  • 1/2 3 oz. can diced green chiles

  • 2.5 cups washed spinach

  • 6 small corn tortillas

  • Sauce of choice- enchilada, taco, or salsa verde

  • Optional toppings- crumbled cheese (I used feta, but goat or Mexican queso fresco would also work beautifully), chopped cilantro, pepitas, or pomegranate seeds

Directions

Roast squash the night before or earlier in the evening. To roast, I simply seasoned the squash with a bit of olive oil and cumin, then baked at 350 degrees until fork tender. In a bowl, combine squash, beans, and chiles. Toss to combine and set aside.

Wash spinach and toss directly into a warm saute pan to wilt. You could even add in some minced garlic for more flavor and boost in antimicrobial power.

For the assembly, coat the bottom of a baking dish with your sauce of choice. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until pliable and keep wrapped in a towel during assembly process- I skipped this step and ended up fighting dry tortillas that wanted to split open at every roll- do not skip this step!

Now you are ready to roll. Place a small amount of spinach on to a tortilla first, followed by 2 scoops of your squash mixture. Gently roll tortilla and place seam-down into the prepared baking dish. Repeat rolling with remaining tortillas and nestle closely together in baking dish. Spoon sauce over enchiladas, then transfer dish into oven to bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove enchiladas from oven, top with cheese and assorted bits, serve, and dig in!

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