Welcome to the inaugural post for The Food Matters Project!
Each week, a group of food bloggers and home cooks are coming together to cook our way through The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living by Mark Bittman.
I’m not gonna lie. This cookbook is overwhelming. Overwhelming in a way that I want to make at least 90% of the 500+recipes in this beast of a book. Overwhelming even moreso in a way that when I first read about what the “Food Matters” philosophy represents and stands for, I was so inspired that I decided to start this project.
In a nutshell, it’s about eating more plants and natural foods. In turn, we’re talking less meat and processed foods. And it’s about how all of that’s good for our health – duh – and the environment, too.
I selected this recipe to kick-off the launch of our project. It was so, so hard to pick just one. I’ve already cooked at least 5 or 6 recipes from the book, because they’re all just so simple and easy for everyday cooking. (If Mark Bittman’s new to you and if you’re a new-ish cook, I highly recommend you check out another book of his as well: How to Cook Everything.) There’s something about the way he explains things that’s so easy to understand, and his recipes are totally no-nonsense. He gives options and ideas for how to adapt almost any given recipe, so you can truly feel confident in what you’re doing if you’re new to experimenting with different flavors or ingredients. He makes cooking fun – and easy.
You know where I stand on this: If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. And yes, this applies even to healthy, easy-enough-for-a-weeknight cooking.
I was drawn to this recipe because the idea of the smoky chipotle with the creamy, sweet roasted butternut squash seemed to be a match made in heaven, and one I just had to try. It was everything I’d hoped for, and the real beauty of it all lies in its simplicity. Few ingredients, simple preparation, food that looks as beautiful as it tastes…that’s what the recipes in this book are all about. Mark offers the lime wedges at the end as optional, but I disagree – squeezed over the dish before serving, they add a necessary element of brightness.
You could do this one as an appetizer or a side. I like the idea of serving it as an appetizer because, well, I don’t normally serve vegetarian let alone close to vegan-friendly (just sub maple syrup for the honey) appetizers. It’s a way to switch things up! I equally like the idea of this as a side, and if you can’t bear the thought of going totally meatless, I think it would be great with a little skirt steak/chimichurri action. I’d eat it with a sliced avocado, drizzled in olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, and call it a meal – no problem. And as a matter of fact, as I’m typing this, I’m thinking about puréeing the whole thing into a soup.
That’s the power of the recipes in this book. Every idea has the potential to multiply.
- 1½ pounds butternut or other winter squash (you can also use sweet potatoes), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus some greasing for the pan
- 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and black pepper
- Lime wedges, optional
- Chopped fresh cilantro, optional
- If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 – 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with oil. Thread the squash tightly on 8 to 12 wooden or metal skewers and put them in the roasting pan.
- Combine the ¼ cup oil, 1 chipotle chile, the adobo sauce, garlic, honey, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. (A mortar and pestle is ideal here.) Taste and add another chile if you like.
- Brush the glaze evenly over the squash skewers and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, turning once or twice and basting with any pan juices. When the squash is tender and deeply colored, remove the skewers from the oven. Serve hot or at room temperature with lime wedges and cilantro if you like.