Meat Free Mondays – Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Enchiladas in our house is almost a weekly tradition, but these Butternut Squash Enchiladas took the whole concept and turned it on its head.

That’s because our enchiladas typically are stuffed with leftover chicken, pork or beef combined with beans, rice, cheese and a zesty red enchilada sauce. They are a great way to get a second day out of any leftover protein.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

But this recipe for Butternut Squash Enchiladas comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Becky, over at Veghotpot, who was one of the first vegetarian writers I discovered after my daughter, Maggie Mae, announced she was becomine a vegetarian last year.

It contains, no meat, no cheese, no beans, no rice and no enchilada sauce. Are you sure that’s even an enchilada, Becky?

While it certainly is different from the enchiladas we are accustomed to, it was delicious and probably a lot healthier as well. Sandi described the flavor the best, noting that it was a nice balance between the sweetness of the butternut squash and the zestiness of the salsa and tomatoes.

The only problem I had was finding butternut squash. Being a hard squash, they usually are available year-round, but I had to visit three stores before I finally found one at Aldi’s. Earlier, I had panic-bought an acorn squash and planned to substitute before Sandi shot that idea down, noting that the flavor pairing would be off. As usual, she was right.

As it turns out, the recipe contains no cheese because Becky is apparently lactose intolerant. (She offers some amazing cheese substitute recipes in her blog today.) But I didn’t miss the cheese at all, especially after I topped my enchiladas with my homemade guacamole and some fat-free sour cream.

Butternut Squash EnchiladasLast week, Becky announced that for the second year in a row she would be participating in the Vegan MoFo Challenge, in which bloggers pledge to write at least 20 blogs featuring vegan recipes, ie. not only no meat, but no cheese, egg or other animal products whatsoever.

For a fleeting moment, I considered the idea, but in the end I love my meat and cheese too much to make that kind of commitment. Still, I will be carefully watching what she posts, especially when they are amazing recipes such as this one for Butternut Squash Enchiladas.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

1 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded cut into quarter-sized slices

1 White Onion, rough chop

3 Garlic Cloves, rough chop

1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 TBS Cumin

1/2 TBS Chili Powder

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1 cup Salsa

10 oz can Diced Tomatoes

4 or 5 Whole Wheat Tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine squash, onion, garlic, oil, cumin and chili powder in a mixing bowl, season with sal and pepper, toss and pour out into a baking pan. Bake until squash is soft and onion is carmelized, stirring once or twice, about 40 minutes. This can be done ahead of time.

2. Combine the salsa and tomato sauce in a mixing bowl.

3. Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with pan spray. One at a time, spread a generous amount of the squash mixture in a tortilla, top with the salsa mixture and roll into an enchilada. Place seam side down in the baking pan. Repeat until all the squash mixture has been used. Top with the remaining salsa mixture, cover with foil and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 10 minutes so the top gets crispy.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with guacamole, extra salsa and fat-free sour cream on the side.


Meat Free Mondays – Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash

As we continue with Meat Free Mondays — our commitment to cook at least one meal per week without meat — it is sometimes a challenge to find a vegetarian dish that satisfies our protein cravings at dinnertime.

Pasta can be one solution. It is starchy and filling, while at the same time complements whatever other ingredients you combine with it.

Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash and Jalapeno Cornbread

Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash and Jalapeno Cornbread

Orzo, which frequently is used in Greek cuisine, is an unusual pasta that is shaped like a long rice grain. While it is manufactured from hard wheat semolina like other pastas, cooked orzo takes on the creamy texture of barley or risotto, both of which are grains.

This time of year, there is an abundance of inexpensive squash in the marketplace, including acorn, carnaval, and spaghetti. Butternut squash has a subtle yet distinct flavor that shines as the centerpeice of this simple yet elegent vegetarian entree. Its slightly nutty and sweet taste perfectly complements the sharpness of the parmesan, and the fresh thyme adds a nice herby tone.

I chose to pair it with jalapeno cornbread because I love the way it crumbles into the pasta as you eat it. And the pepper adds just the slightest kick to this otherwise laid back meal.

The squash can be cooked off ahead of time. Because I prefer to cook off the whole squash at once, I had plenty of roasted diced squash left over to save for sprinkling onto salads or garnishing soups.

Cleaning a butternut squash is easy. Simply cut off the top and bottom, then cut it in half horizontally, leaving a larger globular half and a smaller enlongated half. Use a chef’s knife to cut away the tough outer skin of both halves. Then cut the large, round peice in half again vertically and use an ice cream scoop to remove the seeds and strings.

I adapted this recipe from Weight Watchers, so it is low-fat and healthy as well as delicious! We’ve made it many times, and although it’s not complicated, it is very, very flavorful and quite satisfying.

Creamy Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash

2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes


1/8 tsp sea salt

1/2 TBS unsalted butter

1 cup uncooked orzo

2-1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp fresh thyme (you can substitute dried thyme or even sage)

2 TBS fat-free half and half

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Shaved parmesan for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a mixing bowl, toss the diced squash in the EVOO and 1/8 tsp salt, then lay out onto baking sheet in single layer and roast until softened, about 25 minutes. This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated for later use.

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add the orzo and toast the pasta until it begins to brown and gives off a nutty aroma, about three minutes. Then add the chicken stock and thyme, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook uncovered until all the stock is nearly absorbed into the orzo, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fold in the half and half, squash and grated parm and heat through, about one minute. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with shaved parm.

Do you have any vegetarian pasta entrees that satisfy your protein cravings? Why not share them in the comments section below? And, as always, thanks for looking at my blog!