Everywhere I go, I see the rust, orange, and gold of pumpkins and squashes. Some smile from my neighbors’ front stoops. Some have been tagged for this year’s Thanksgiving pie or pumpkin pancakes (Hello, Russia!). Even Pinterest looks like a digital pumpkin patch of late.
All this for good reason. These beautiful gourds are autumn. They represent breathless hikes to pick out the biggest, the gnarliest, the cutest in the bunch.
But for all that, I can only look at so many pumpkin recipes before my eyes glaze over.
In this southern African country, gourds are served up in fun and fresh ways. In my wildest dreams I never considered putting peanut butter with butternut squash. But my goodness… it works!
Here are three recipes from Zimbabwe to add interest to your global fall fest.
1. Roasted Acorn Squash with Cheddar & Corn
Oh man, oh man, oh man. Seriously.
I’d be proud to call this lunch any time of day. This recipe was originally made with a “gem” squash in Zimbabwe, which I can’t obtain in Oklahoma. I found acorn squash to be a perfect substitute, although you could do this with pumpkin or butternut squash, too.
This will be made often in my home. And in large quantities. Again, thank you, Zimbabwe.
Serves 2-3 (Adapted from Eternal Zest)
1 small acorn squash
2/3 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup grated cheese, like cheddar or mozarella
Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, cut an acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice a bit off the round side of the squash halves, so they will stand up straight on the baking sheet.
Brush liberally with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spoon in 1/4-1/3 cup of frozen corn per side (no need to thaw the corn) and top with shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup per half).
Roast until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife and the cheese is bubbling and browned. Cooking times will vary, but a small squash may be done in 45 minutes, whereas a large one may take an hour.
I found the cheese browned perfectly after about 50 minutes. If the cheese starts to brown too much for your taste, simply cover the squash loosely with foil.
Eat hot with great Zimbabwean gusto.
2. Pumpkin with Cinnamon
Roast or steam some pumpkin (or any other gourd). Sprinkle with cinnamon and salt. Voila!
Granted, this one isn’t so unusual, but it’s neat to see Zimbabweans enjoy their pumpkin with cinnamon, too!
Small world. Smiling world.
3. Peanut Butter & Butternut Mash (Nhopi)
I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t tasted it: the combination of butternut squash and peanut butter is ridiculously good. And vegan! The flavor is like a ghost of peanut butter, with a cheery sprinkling of salt, on the sweet squash. It’s the perfect sweet/salty combo. Thank you Zimbabwe!
Serves 2-4 (Adapted from Fudu Now)
1 butternut squash
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, or to taste (natural preferred)
warm water, to thin as needed (optional)
salt or sugar
Garnish: crushed peanuts, as desired
Peel, cube and steam butternut squash for about 30 minutes. Be sure to cook it until extremely tender, to ensure a smooth mash (take it from me, if you rush the cooking process, you can end up with lumpy squash).
Next, mash the peanut butter into the squash directly with a little salt or sugar.
OR, if your squash seems dry, whisk the peanut butter with a couple of Tbsp water until a smooth sauce is formed. (Personally, I prefer no added water, since that dilutes the flavors).
Either way, mash the butternut squash with peanut butter and season with salt or sugar, as desired.
To get a silky smooth texture, use an immersion blender.
Top with crushed peanuts.
Love, love, love.
After this, I think Zimbabwe just might have a place at my Thanksgiving table….
Are you planning on sharing any global dishes this Thanksgiving?