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For some reason, I have become enamoured with butternut squash. Readily available at my local grocery store, it stays fresh for a long long time on the kitchen counter so it has become one of my pandemic staples. These days I try to get all my meals planned and food delivered or purchased just once a week — and I happened to have all the ingredients already for this dish.
Beans are a food group that I try to eat multiple times a week. I rarely buy canned beans since I am at home so much now, and I can go from dried black beans to flavorful, plump cooked beans in 50 minutes thanks to my trusty pressure cooker. If you want to try making beans from scratch, send me a note and I will send you detailed instructions on how to do this. Remember, leftover beans freeze beautifully too.
When I saw this recipe in the Washington Post Food Section last December, I decided to make it pronto. I ended up with so much stew that I took half of the pot to my son and his family. I should add that leftovers are fantastic here, but I love to share my food with friends and family.
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Stew. Adapted from Ruth Terry in Istanbul!
- 4 cups (26 ounces) peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash (3/4 inch)
- ¼ cup good olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 11 ounces which is big)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced ½ inch (about 1 ¼ cups)
- ½ large bunch (2 ounces) fresh cilantro leaves and stems, plus more for garnish (optional)
- 8 cloves garlic (I didn’t have any, but I am sure it would be good)
- ¾ teaspoon dried basil
- Three (15-ounce) cans black beans (about 5 cups), drained and liquid reserved (instead I did 1 ½ c black beans in my Pressure Cooker with 5 cups water and vegetables. Send me a note if you want exact directions)
- One (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cooked rice, quinoa or couscous, for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the salt and toss to combine. Spread over a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or just until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring until the edges start to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn light brown, about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, in a bowl of a food processor, combine the bell pepper, cilantro and garlic in a nutribullet or blender and pulse until very finely chopped and uniform but not fully smooth — this is your sofrito.
Add the sofrito to the pot and raise the heat to medium. Add the dried basil and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the beans, roasted butternut squash and stir to combine.
Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and 1 scant cup bean cooking liquid or water. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Bring the stew to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until slightly thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. If you prefer a thicker stew, simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes, until your desired consistency is reached.
To serve, ladle the stew into shallow bowls or over couscous, quinoa or rice, and garnish with cilantro, full fat yogurt and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.