Honeynut Squash with Tahini, Pomegranate, and Pistachios

For me, fall signals pumpkins. But not in a “pumpkin spice” kinda way. When I think pumpkin, I think “winter squash.” I love seeing what’s available at the market this time of year. The colors always amaze me: blues, greens, yellows, oranges, browns. Butternut, acorn, delicata, cheese and fairytale pumpkins, kabocha, Hubbard…the list goes on. As do the ways to prepare these fall delicacies.

I found some beautiful baby butternut squash, Honeynut, at Trader Joe’s, and was excited to put it to use. Winter squash are a wonderful source of beta-carotene, complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, and fiber. All wonderful things for supporting overall health. Honeynut tastes almost like a fresh chestnut: earthy, nutty, yet sort of sweet.

I don’t bother peeling “softer” skinned winter squash, like butternut, honeynut, or delicata. Many nutrients are in the skin, the skin softens up beautifully during cooking, and peeling slippery squash can be a dangerous prospect. I have the scars to prove it.

Just slice off the bottom, scoop out the seeds with a spoon (dry and toast the seeds, eat them raw, or feed them to the backyard birds), and finish slicing.

I chose to steam this squash because it’s fast (under 10 minutes!) and doesn’t require any oil or turning on the oven.

In the bottom of the steamer, I cooked millet. You could also use amaranth, quinoa, or rice to fill out the meal. (And once the squash was done, the grains were still cooking so I rotated broccoli and asparagus into the top basket for a few minutes.)

I topped this dish with chopped pistachio nuts, pomegranate seeds, fresh chopped mint, and lemon-tahini sauce. The pistachios are a great source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin B6, folate, and thiamine; beta-carotene, and a ton of important minerals. Pomegranate seeds are full of health-promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants and add beauty, color contrast, and a satisfying burst of sweetness when bitten into. The mint also contains powerful phytonutrients and has antimicrobial properties, provides another color contrast, and rounds out the flavor. Lastly, the lemon-tahini provides additional vitamin C, omega fatty acids, folate, a rich creaminess, and a fresh, bright taste.

I love making dinner in 15 minutes, especially when it’s loaded with this much goodness.

Honeynut Squash with Tahini, Pomegranate, and Pistachios
Yield: 2-3 servings as side, 1 as entree
Time: 15 minutes

1 honeynut squash, seeded and sliced into 1/4-1/2″ rounds
~2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
~10-15 pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped (optionally roasted)
5-6 fresh mint leaves, chopped into strips
~3 Tbsp lemon-tahini sauce (1 batch)

1. In a steamer basket, arrange the squash. It is ok to layer the slices. Cook about 10-12 minutes, or until a fork or sharp knife can pierce them easily. Remove to platter.
2. While squash is steaming, make lemon-tahini sauce.
3. Once squash is on the platter, drizzle lemon-tahini sauce, sprinkle pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts, and top with fresh mint. Enjoy!

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