1 large butternut squash, halved with seeds removed
1. Oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet, and then lightly oil the cut halves of the squash. Place cut-side down and bake for about a 1/2 hour, or until soft (check occasionally to make sure it’s not too soft).
2. Remove from oven and put, cut-side up, in a baking dish. Serves 6.
With tomato-bean “salsa”
1 can black beans, or 1.5 cups prepared dried beans
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, or one small can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
dried basil or oregano
1. Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and herbs, and cook about a minute more. Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Simmer a few minutes to let the flavors blend, then add the beans. Stir to combine and simmer on low about 5-10 minutes, adding a little water or red wine if you have some open (and I hope you do).
2. Pour the tomatoes and beans over the squash and return to the oven to keep warm.
With polenta and pesto
1 cup polenta
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup pesto
1. Bring the water or broth to a boil a heavy saucepan. Slowly add the polenta, whisking to combine, then reduce heat to low. Keep on low for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
2. Stir in the pesto (add more if you like). Fill the butternut squash halves with the polenta, and serve immediately. (If not serving immediately, cover with foil and return to oven to warm. You can definitely make this earlier in the day and gently reheat before sitting down to dinner.)
With wild rice and mushrooms
2 cups wild rice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
10 mushroom (shiitake or crimini work well here)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
1. Put the broth and a dash of olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, sautee the onion and garlic over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste and cook a few minutes more. Add the mushrooms and cook a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add the wine and cook until mushrooms are soft.
3. Remove bay leaf. Add the mushrooms and onions to the rice and stir well to combine. Pour the rice over the squash and serve immediately. (Again, if making in advance, cover with foil to make sure the rice doesn’t dry out if you put in the oven for a bit.)