Super Easy Butternut Squash with Ground Beef and Onions (Serves 1)
Susan W, a chef in Portland, Oregon, who is active on the Whole30 forum recommends cooking spaghetti squash in a slow cooker 4 hours and then slicing it open and scraping out the “spaghetti.” Her tip worked so well, I decided to try it with butternut squash too. Sure enough, butternut squash cooks to a nice consistency in 4 hours and then is super easy to cut in half. Then you can scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard them and then scoop out the soft, orange flesh of the squash with a spoon and use it in meals. The trick is to cook the butternut squash one day and then let it cool overnight so you can harvest the flesh of the squash easily the next day. My wife has been seasoning the squash with salt and pepper, heating it in the microwave, and eating it as a veggie side with slow cooker roast. I browned chopped onions and ground beef in a wok and then added butternut squash to make my meal.
Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
Butternut squash (see Slow Cooker recipe below)
1 sweet yellow onion
Coconut oil or ghee
Chipotle chili powder
Ground black pepper
Directions: Melt one tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Peel and chop onion into bite-size pieces. Add one big handful of onion to hot wok and save the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later. Season with a dusting of salt, garlic powder, and Chipotle chili powder. Add a palm-size serving of ground beef and season with another dusting of spices. Mix the beef and the onions with a fork and let cook stirring occasionally until most of the pink disappears from the meat. Scoop several cups of butternut squash onto hot meat and onions. Season with a dusting of salt, garlic powder, Chipotle chili powder and ground black pepper. Mix everything together, cover, and let cook through for 5 minutes. After five minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Transfer everything to a plate and enjoy!
Notes: You can make this meal with other ground meats or slow cooker roast. You can add mushrooms or fresh greens like spinach or kale.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash (Serves 6-8)
Prep time: 1 minute
Cook time: 4 hours
1 butternut squash
Directions: Place intact butternut squash in slow cooker. Cover and set temperature to slow cook (200 degrees on my unit) and time to 4 hours. That’s it! I turned my squash over after 2 hours, but I am convinced turning is not necessary. After 4 hours, use a towel to pick up the intact squash and place it in a large bowl in the refrigerator to cool. The next day or whenever the squash is sufficiently cool, cut it in half from top to bottom with a knife. Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds from each half and discard. Then use the spoon to scoop the soft butternut squash out of the rind into a storage container. When you are finished, say a little prayer of thanks that your work was done in just a few minutes and you did not have to struggle to peel the squash for almost 20 minutes.
Notes: Cooked butternut squash keeps in the refrigerator 5 to 7 days, so you can use it in meals for several days.
The intact squash developed some burn/dark spots where it contacted the slow cooker, but the marks on the outside did not penetrate into the luscious squash flesh on the inside.
The squash might be sufficiently cooked after just 2 hours in the slow cooker, but I was happy with the results of 4 hours.
My slow cooker is a Cuisinart Multi Cooker that I picked up at Williams-Sonoma because my local store had one in stock and I wanted to start cooking right away. Amazon sells the Cuisinart, but runs out of stock occasionally. The Breville Stainless-Steel 7-Quart Slow Cooker with EasySear Insert on display in my Store is similar. Check them out by clicking on the Store link in the upper right hand corner of this site. The Cuisinart has a see-through top and the Breville has a stainless steel top. I like being able to see inside without opening the lid, but the Breville sells for $75 less than the Cuisinart.
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