I love creating recipes that are both healthy and super-flavorful. And if they’re quick and easy to make as well, then I know I have a winner on my hands.
Today’s dish is just that: a winner!
It’s healthy for sure: the butternut squash, corn and spinach are packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals as well as being low in calories.
It’s loaded with flavor: the butternut squash is sweet and pleasing, the corn is wonderfully nutty, and the spinach, wilted with both hot and sweet Hungarian paprika, delivers shots of spice and earth in each little mouthful.
And it’s quick and easy to make, to boot! If you have the butternut squash purée made ahead of time (or use a good brand of organic pumpkin or squash purée), the dish comes together in 20 minutes — all right, 25 minutes tops!
As a last touch, I drizzle the whole thing with toasted pumpkin seed oil. It’s one of my favorite flavor boosters for winter recipes. It’s dense, inky-green and fabulously nutty…. A little goes a very, very long way.
Food & wine pairing: Chardonnay with butternut squash polenta and spicy wilted spinach
With this dish, you can go two ways: The first option is to serve a full-bodied white wine – like a Chardonnay that has spent a little time in oak barrels; or a luscious, fragrant Viognier. But you could also serve a low-tannin red wine – like a Gamay from Burgundy.
Creamy butternut squash polenta with spicy wilted spinach
active time: 30 min
For the polenta
- 3 cups spring water
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup corn grits for polenta
- 1 cup butternut squash purée
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the wilted spinach
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 8 oz (225 g) baby spinach – rinsed and spun dry
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Toasted pumpkin seed oil as garnish
- Step 1: Bring the water and broth to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As soon as the mixture boils, add the corn grits. Whisk vigorously until the mixture starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer the polenta, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes until it is thick and al dente. Add the butternut squash purée, parmesan, crème fraîche, salt and black pepper. Stir well until well incorporated. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the oil, garlic and both paprikas. Sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic softens, but doesn’t brown. Add the spinach and salt and toss until just wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Spoon the polenta into bowls. Top with the wilted spinach and a spoonful of the juices. Drizzle with the pumpkin seed oil and serve immediately.