Oh, this one is so good… That said, making double the recipe very nearly overwhelmed both me and my 3 quart pot! Nothing about it is hard, it just has a couple of steps and a butternut squash to conquer.
I will be honest with you, I was going to cheat. I had planned to buy frozen pre-chopped winter squash. I just didn’t want to deal with the mess and the knife and all the chopping. Only the fact that the grocery store had no frozen squash changed my mind. So, here is the recipe and my favorite method for cutting up a butternut squash.
This recipe comes from an old copy of Vegetarian Times and I have made it many many times over the years for the holidays. It has become a family favorite.
- 4.5 cups of water
- 1.5 cups of polenta
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 pound winter squash
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz can pinto beans
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
First off, bring a good sized pot of water to a boil and add the grits and chili powder. Stir well and bring the heat way down. You don’t want it to bubble and pop, it just needs enough heat to keep hot while the grits absorb the water.
Next preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then I recommend attacking the squash. My favorite way of cutting a squash is to: peel it, slice the skinny part into rounds, cut the bulb in half, scoop out the guts and then chop up the segments. A sharp chefs knife is very important to this process. If you don’t have one you can cheat by poking holes in the squash and microwaving it for a bit until it softens. This gives you a better chance of being able to cut it up with a kind of dull knife.
Peel the outer skin
Scoop out the guts
After you have destroyed the squash (I like getting the hard part over with first!) move on to the onion and pepper. Put a little oil in the bottom of a good sized pot and add the onions, once they start to soften add the peppers about 5 minutes later add the squash. Give it another 10 minutes or so and then add the tomatoes, beans, garlic and spices. At this point go ahead and taste it to see if you’d like to add a little salt or any cayenne to the mix. Cook until the squash is tender.
Now you want to spread about 2 cups worth of polenta on the bottom of the 8 x 12 pan. Then add the vegetable mixture and finish it off by spreading the rest of the polenta out on top of that. You will want to put it in the oven for about 30 – 45 minutes so that the top can crisp up and brown a bit.
This dish is excellent served fresh and hot from the oven, but is also a tasty as leftovers. I think it’s one of those special recipes that only gets better with time.