September is a confusing month. Is it the end of summer or the beginning of fall? Cause it's still like 80 degrees outside and I'm drinking a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks...
Ed. Note—The Athletes Table is BACK! Aaron Vinten returns with another one of his amazing recipes. Aaron has cooked his way through a couple of Wattie Ink. camps this year, raced a bunch, and launched this sick kit. He joins us once a month to cook for us, and brings us something redolent of fall, even though summer officially runs through the 21st...what could it be?
Summer officially ends the first weekend in September on the Labor Day weekend (at least in my book anyway), but sometimes the days in September are still hot and feel nothing like those cool fall days that you know are right around the corner. Not only is September a confusing month, but you start to see some really confusing looking vegetables in the markets. You know, all those long, oddly shaped and an oddly colored squashes. Squashes are just one of those winter vegetables that give off a bad first impression. Rough & ugly on the outside, but the truth is that they are filled on the inside with pure LOVE. They LOVE to be roasted and tossed into salads, LOVE to be sliced in half and stuffed with a savory fillings and LOVE to made into a soups and added to a hearty risotto. Yes, there really is a lot to LOVE about them...yes, I'm talking about you Mr. Butternut Squash. The butternut squash that I have is going to be turned into a delicious Butternut “Alfredo” Pasta Sauce served over a gluten-free pasta and toped with some glorious Butternut Pasta w/ Pumpkin Spice & Sage Meatballs. Dairy-free, gluten-free and of course....EPIC & TASTY. A perfect blend of proteins, carbs and vegetables for all you hungry athletes. LET’S GET STARTED!
STEP 1: GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS
for a printable recipe card and follow along with all the pictures! Servings: 5 Butternut Alfredo:
1.5 – 2 Pounds Butternut Squash (chopped), ½ White Onion, 2 Tbls Avocado Oil, 1/4 Chicken or veggie Stock, 2 Cashew Milk, 5 Springs Fresh Tyhme, 1 Tsp Garlic, Sea Salt (To Taste), White Pepper (To Taste) Pumpkin Spice & Sage Meatballs:
1 Pound Ground Pork, 1 Pound Ground Dark Turkey, 2 Eggs, 3 Tbls Crushed Garlic, 3 Tbls Maple Syrup, 2 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice, 2 Tsp Sea Salt, 2 Tsp Black Pepper, 1/2 Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs, 1/4 Cup Sage Leaves (Chopped), ¼ Cup Parsley (Chopped) Equipment:
Cutting Board, Measuring Spoons, Chef’s Knife, 2 Mixing Bowls, Mixing Spoon, 2 Large Baking Sheet, Aluminum Foil, High Powdered Blender *As always, it’s important to get all your ingredients out in front of you before you start to cooking. Scrambling to find something last minute is not a very fun or efficient way to cook and can create unnecessary stress! Be prepared, it only takes a couple seconds.
STEP 2: CHOP & SEASON YOUR SQUASH
First, do two things:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees & 2) Cover two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick coconut oil spray. Let's start with the squash. I like to buy and work with fresh whole squashes. They are fresher and cheaper. But, if you want to buy the pre-cut squash, go for it! It's easy and is a great time saver and the truth is...I do it all the time. Have you ever tried peeling a squash with a vegetable peeler?
You know that little peeler you peel cucumbers with? They work like magic on the rough and tough skin of a squash.
In a large bowl combine your cut squash, sea salt, black pepper, fresh thyme leaves, chopped onion and avocado oil. Mix to combine and spread out evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake squash at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until soft and squishy, with minimal browning.
STEP 3: MAKE YOUR MEATBALLS
With the squash roasting in the oven, get all the meatball ingredients prepped up. Chop the sage & parsley, crush the garlic and get the eggs and spices ready to be mixed in. Next, grab the ground turkey and pork from the fridge and add both to a large bowl. Add all the ingredients and mix together just enough to get things evenly distributed. A great way to test for seasoning is to put a small bit (smashed golf ball size) of the meatball mixture in frying pan and cook it. Taste and adjust as desired, that way you can customize the recipe to your liking. More salt? More pepper? Maybe you want more herbs or pumpkin spice!
With a spoon, measure out a 1 ounce size meatball. Roughly a large spoonful. Roll in the palm of your hands to form their classic round shape. Top with a fresh sage leaf and a brush of oil. The meatballs with take roughly 15-20 minutes to cook. When they are firm to the touch they are done. Of course, you can pull out a meatball from the oven to check for doneness and eat the rest while nobody is looking, duh!
STEP 4: COOK YOUR PASTA
There are TONS of gluten-free pastas on the market. Some made with all sorts of things including corn, quinoa, rice, brown rice and black beans. Pick your favorite one and cook according to the instruction on the box. What’s really delicious are some of the FRESH gluten-free pastas that have started coming into the market such as a brand called Cappellos
. You'll usually find these near the butter and cheese, which, frankly, is where you'll usually find me, too.
STEP 5: BLEND YOUR SAUCE
Remove the squash from the oven and add all the roasted veggies into the blender with ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock and 1 cup of cashew. Start blending slowly. Turn up the power and start adding more cashew milk or water if you prefer until you reach a saucy consistency. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Also, a bit of lemon juice will help liven up the flavors.
A special addition would be to add some Kite Hill Cream Chees
e or Kite Hill Ricotta
for some additional richness and creaminess. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. This is one of those sauces that you just might find me putting a couple tablespoons of butter in as well.
STEP 6: EAT!
Time to EAT! Combine the pasta, butternut sauce and top with the fresh pumpkin spice & sage meatballs! To really finish the dish off and add that extra bit of autumn flavor, try topping with some chopped cranberries, toasted pecans and a bit of chopped sage & parsley. A healthy blend of proteins, carbs and vegetables for all you hungry athletes.