I love fall foods. Hearty root vegetables, crisp greens, sweet winter squashes; hardy foods that stand up to slow roasting and simmering. Their warmth and heaviness is the perfect thing for the shorter days and cooler temperatures, when you just want to curl up on the couch and drink hot cocoa. I get excited when the first thanksgiving foods start appearing on the shelves: cornbreads and apple pies, cranberry sauce and yams, pumpkin spice in everything! (How’s that for cliche?)
I’ll share a little secret, which is that for all my love for fall foods, I like fall not at all. It’s a bit melancholy, driving home in the dark, realizing that another year is coming to a close. Here in Southern California, there are few colorful trees to excuse the shorter days. The weather is unpredictable. In fact, today it was almost 90 degrees outside, no weather for breaking out the sweaters and tights and boots (not that it ever stops anyone). While I could eat fall foods all year round, I sometimes wish it could always be spring.
This dish is good for the early days of fall, when it’s still a bit warm out but the winter squash are starting to arrive in your CSA box. It’s inspired by the traditional Cuban dish of black beans and rice. The traditional flavors are complemented by the sweet squash and a bit of orange juice. It goes together pretty quickly. Just don’t forget to put the rice on early.
Did you know that Cuban style black beans and rice is traditionally known as Moros y Cristianos? Literally, that translates as “Moors and Christians”. Evidently the black beans represent the Moors and the white rice the Christians.
This version is a lot more colorful than just black and white, using red onions, yellow peppers, and lovely orange butternut squash. I will deign to rename this dish in the style of Moros y Cristianos as I fear it could only be racist. At best. You’ll just have to satisfy yourself with calling it butternut squash and black beans. What it lacks in name it makes up for in taste, I promise.
I didn’t go for spicy with this dish. It’s not really traditional, and it’s more child friendly this way. If you’re into spicy, feel free to add in a jalapeño or some chili powder, or top with some hot sauce.
Serve over rice with some fresh cilantro or oregano. Enjoy with a mojito!
- 1 small butternut squash (or other winter squash)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- ½ large red onion
- 1 yellow pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cans black beans, drained
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- ½ c orange juice
- Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Cut in half, remove seeds, then chop.
- Place squash in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil about 10 minutes, or until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Drain
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or shallow pot until shimmering, then add onion, garlic, and yellow pepper. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the onion and peppers start to soften.
- Add the beans, cumin, orange juice, salt, and pepper to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the squash and heat through.