It may still be in the 90s in Los Angeles but I've already transitioned to "fall" foods like pumpkin spice lattes and butternut squash.
Butternut squash contains many of the same health benefits as zucchini even though it is technically a fruit. It is high in fiber which aids in digestion, potassium which is important for bone health, and caretenoids which protect against heart disease. Is is also full of antioxidants which have anti inflammatory effects and can improve conditions such as asthma, arthritis and acne.
As if the health benefits weren't motivation enough, this recipe is a casserole which means less cooking during the week! I'm packing the leftovers for lunch at this very moment...
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 18-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
1 cup quinoa or whole wheat couscous
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 10-12 ounce boxes frozen pureed squash, thawed*
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Heat two tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until tender and browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, 2 tbsp cumin, coriander, cayenne, and allspice and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, quinoa (or couscous), raisins, water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
If thawed squash is watery, place in a fine-mesh sieve and gently press to extract excess liquid. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp salt.
Transfer chickpea mixture to a baking dish and cover with squash. Cover the dish and bake until steaming hot, about 45 minutes for quinoa (15 mins for couscous). Let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro if you insist.
*I couldn't find pureed squash at Trader Joes so I bought two fresh butternut squash. I sliced each down the middle vertically, placed cut side down on a slightly greased baking sheet and cooked for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Once the squash cooled I scooped the meat into a large bowl and used an immersion blender to puree.