Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zambian Squash

Lately, the boys have started praising things they like with food words as praise words.  My younger son declares his "catch phrase" is "pesto!", and my older son marks his own happiness with the exclamation, "McDonalds!"  (That's especially funny because we never eat there).  Food-as-praise makes sense, because they're both getting to the point where they eat a lot.  I'm fortunate that they'll eat anything, so I can serve nutritious meals that are cheap.  (True story: one son recently begged for fourths of kale, while the other pouted because there was no more after his thirds. )

Here's one of my favorite filling-but-cheap three-ingredient dishes:  Zambian squash.
Prepare squash:  Cut, de-seed, and bake squash (pumpkin works great, but so does any other winter squash).  When the skin begins to brown, remove the squash from the oven, let cool, and peel (or just scoop the good parts out of the shell).
Mix with peanut butter and salsa.  Heat in the oven or crockpot, and serve with rice or potatoes.
Why do I like this recipe so much?  For one thing, winter squashes are abundant and cheap this time of year.  I haven't had much luck, though, with serving squash to my family, so I did a lot of hunting for recipes that our family liked. (My mom's ratatouille--essentially half squash and half garlic--is a bit of an acquired taste. . . . yeah).

I stumbled upon a variant of this recipe in the More with Less Cookbook, tried it, and loved it.  I realized that many of the things on the MwLC list of the ingredients were really the basis for salsa, which we also have piled up on our shelves this time of year, thanks to the garden.  If you don't have cheap salsa, substitute the original ingredients from the recipe (I quote:  "onions, tomatoes, and seasonings").  A piece of advice:  don't skimp on the peanut butter!

This recipe works really well in a crock pot, which makes it great for pot-luck suppers.  The mix of ingredients sounds really strange, but for almost everyone who has tried it, this dish has been a real hit.


  1. I want to make this, but I'm a bit at sea. Do you thin the peanut butter? Do you chop the squash, or puree it? What are the proportions? Two parts squash, one part salsa, one part peanut butter?

  2. Janeric,

    My kids will laugh a lot at your question about proportions . . . oh geez. I make this different every time. Let's say that for a large-ish pumpkin, I use a cup or two of salsa and a cup of peanut butter.

    When I scoop the pumpkin out of the shell, it's in golf-ball sized chunks (the size of my spoon). I dump in a glob of peanut butter straight from the jar, and also a glob of salsa. I stir with a wooden spoon. This tends to break the pumpkin into smaller pieces (about a half-inch?), but I don't puree it.

    Hope this helps! -- MM