Friday, September 26, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash Puree and Sauteed Spinach

Welcome to butternut squash season. For the next 6 months be prepared to see an immense amount of butternut squash recipes from me. Growing up I was never a squash fan (notice how I didn't feature any zucchini recipes during the summer?), but last year (pre-food blogging) I discovered butternut squash and I can't get enough. I love everything about it, the texture, the flavor, and the fact that it even with it's sweetness, it can be used in sweet and savory recipes. In fact, one of my first food blogging entries was about baking with butternut squash. I just can't get enough of the stuff. I may like it even more than figs!! Can you imagine?! You know how I feel about figs! The thing is, even though it is officially fall and we are heading into a season with some of the most amazing fruits and vegetables, it is becoming the hottest time of the year here in So Cal. The Santa Ana winds are approaching and 90 degree dry weather in October is about to make it's mark. I'm so jealous of my fellow food bloggers that get to experience the changing leaves and cooler temperatures of this time of year, so this is my attempt to bridge that gap. Grilled chicken because let's face it, I need to use my grill more and keep that summer flair, and a recipe using the beginnings of the best of locally grown produce. It's so strange, the smell of sage makes me slightly nauseous, but I think it does a magical thing when combined with butter and/or butternut squash. I totally love it. I thought about using a brown butter for the puree, but I wanted to keep it light given the current climate. If you're not a fan of raw garlic, cook it in a little bit of olive oil or reduce the amount to mellow out the taste. I recently discovered these individually wrapped organic chicken breasts at Trader Joe's which I bought and stuck in the freezer. I know I could do this on my own, but I don't and I am willing to spend the extra cost to have this little pre-wrapped beauties to take out of the freezer whenever I need them. I also added a little spinach to this, mostly to use up some spinach I had left from the farmers market, but also to add a little green to the dish. The puree can be done ahead of time, making this an easy and quick dinner to throw together any night of the week. Simplicity in one of it's finest forms.

Grilled Chicken

Chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree
(By Esi)

1 medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 or 5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chicken broth and/or water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauteed Spinach
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, and dice the squash into 1/2 inch chunks. In a large bowl toss together the squash and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn squash onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Turn squash over and roast until soft and golden brown, about another 15-20 minutes.

In a blender or food processor combine roasted squash, sage, garlic, and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Puree until smooth adding chicken broth and/or water as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side until cooked through.

To make the spinach, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Saute until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.

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The Blonde Duck said...

I'd love to have a seat in your kitchen!

Anonymous said...

I love butternut squash, too. And pumpkin puree! What a pretty picture.

Erica said...

oh my gosh- beautiful presentation! I love butternut squash too! I love this puree, it sounds incredible! I can't wait to see the rest of your butternut squash recipes! What are you doing this weekend?

By the way- thanks for telling me about your Lance and JC encounters! I think that is so very cool!

Angry Asian said...

i love butternut squash too. i'm excited to see what you do with it. i tend to get crazy at the beginning of the season but then towards the end, i'm pretty sick of it. i think it's because i only make soup of it (altho i did make a pasta dish with it once that was really good...)

Anonymous said...

I recently discovered spaghetti squash, but have yet to venture into butternut squash. It's on the list though!

I am just excited about how many things I eat as an adult that I never even looked it as a child. The ONLY vegetable I ate as a child was cucumber!

Dee said...

I love everything about your meal! I'd probably use boneless chicken thighs - breast always turns out dry in my kitchen.

Shelby said...

Esi, this looks delicious! I came to see your DB challenge - I'll have to come back on Sunday evening when I return home.

Debbie said...

I haven't made many dishes with butternut squash and I am looking forward to more of your recipes using it...looks delicious!

Erica said...

Hey! Yes I did all of the steps for the dough. Did you use her white whole wheat recipe (I know she has a couple pizza dough recipes up)? There are only a few steps in that one, its the one I use:

Alicia Foodycat said...

The more recipes you come up with for butternut the happier I am - I love it!

Esi said...

Blonde Duck - If you're ever in LA, you are more than welcome to dinner :)

Erica - Met up with some college friends last night and had a blast catching up and drinking way to much wine. I'm paying for it today.

Biz - that is too hilarious. I too and discovering I really do like things that I thought I didn't before.

Honey B - the lavash pics are up now!

Unknown said...

haha, I have a butternut squash on the counter too :) this looks awesome, great combo!!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm...I love butternut squash too. Looking forward to all of your upcoming recipes! :-)

Maria said...

I love Butternut squash, one of my favorite things about fall!