Cooking from the pantry
Since I’m snowed in at the moment of cooking this meal, I’m optimizing what I have in my fridge and pantry. I’m a bit of an experimental home cook, and often browse the internet for inspiration, so I asked google what could I make with butternut squash and swiss chard. When I came across one that included harissa sauce, I thought, "Perfect, I have that in my fridge " It turns out that butternut squash with harissa is a taste sensation!
What is Harissa Sauce?
Harissa is a North African & Middle Eastern flavor profile that is smoky, tangy, and gives just enough spiciness without being too hot.
It is made from a paste of roasted hot chili peppers, garlic, cumin oil and lemon, then mixed with other ingredients, such as tomatoes, yogurt, or coconut milk, to make a sauce or dip.
I thought the harissa seasoning would blend perfectly with coconut milk as a simmer sauce to pair with the slightly sweet butternut squash and tender greens. Full fat and lite coconut milk can be used interchangeably, and since I sauteed the onion in coconut oil to start, I chose the lite version from the pantry.
What is Harissa sauce good with?
To round this out as a vegan entree, I enjoyed a side of canary beans, but butternut squash with harissa and chard would also work well with earthy lentils or creamy butter beans (giant limas).
Or for omnivores, it is a delicious side dish to any entree such as chicken.
Home Chef Tip: How to store Swiss Chard
It drives me nuts when produce wilts in my fridge before I can work it into a meal.
Here's the perfect way to make sure your swiss chard stays hydrated and crisp, and often works to revive greens that are limp straight from the market.
Leave it unwashed. Trim stems at the base and immediately place in a jar of water, just like a bouquet of flowers. Rinse as you use them.
If you know you'll be cooking it anyway, you can go ahead and wash the whole bunch and spin dry. Chop roughly and place in airtight, freezer-safe bags. Remove any air from the bag to prevent freezer burn.
Mealtime conversation starters
“Don’t just invite someone to the party, invite them to dance.” ~ unknown
We don’t know about you, but this quote creates a wonderful word picture of what it means to feel included. It feels pretty special, doesn’t it?
By asking a question, you invite another person to dance. They feel included.
While you are cooking or sharing this meal with another, here is a question you can ask so that you don’t just invite the other person to the party, you ask them to dance. Let another person know they matter.
Question: What song makes you feel like dancing whenever you hear it?
Butternut Squash with Harissa Sauce and Swiss Chard
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- Large saute pan with lid
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced, (or 3 tbsp)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled, diced or cut lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 1 can lite coconut milk
- 6 tbsp harissa sauce
- 1 tsp fresh ginger peeled and grated, or ⅛ tsp dried ground ginger
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 6 leaves swiss chard stems separated and diced
Prep the vegetables
- To peel fresh ginger, rub the skin off with the edge of a spoon. Then grate.
- After rinsing your chard, carve the rib out from the leafy green and set aside. Chiffonade the greens or chop into bite sized pieces.
- Dice the onion and chard ribs finely, and mince garlic.
- Sauté diced onion and chard rib in coconut oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and squash and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in coconut milk, harissa paste, ginger and salt, then bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until squash is almost done, about 10 minutes.
- Uncover the pan and raise heat, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and and the sauce has thickened.
- Add chard leaves wilt, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Serve hot.
Hand Size Portions
When you look at the nutritional values of a meal to log what you are eating, that is called tracking macros. A lot of people use this method to reach their health goals.
Looking at hand portion size and using this method to gauge how and what you eat is also a great method to help you reach your health goals. Many people who use this method often think this form of tracking meals is easier and more sustainable for a lifetime.
Want to learn more about hand portion size and how to use it to reach your goals? Check out the article How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.
Heather Lynn Darby helps office and tech professionals disrupt the cycle of chronic stress that undermines their health, and to recover from the negative effects of sitting at a computer all day. Find other articles written by Heather on her coach profile.
If you are largely sedentary at work and rely on your intellectual acumen for success, her take on body-mind interventions will help you find a balance between being "in the zone" and getting the amount of movement that will optimize your mental productivity and prevent health problems.