beef tagine with butternut squash

I have never cut up a fresh squash.

In the past, I’ve always just purchased a tray of pre-cut butternut squash at the grocery store (God bless Trader Joe’s!). And why shouldn’t I?  It’s done and it always seems to be the amount I need-about 3 cups.  For the past three weeks, I’ve received a different squash each week in the CSA box and have placed them in a bowl on the dining room table.  As much as I appreciate my ready-made fall decoration, I realize it’s not practical and it’s time to make something wonderful with at least one of these.  Peeling a squash is no easy task.  The size makes it difficult to work with.  Also, it has curves-a bad thing for those of us who are cutlery challenged.   Regardless, I pressed on and got it done.  One butternut squash produced about three cups of cubed goodness.

When the weather turns cooler ( in reality, so far we have only had a couple of days that have dipped below 70), I yearn for one pot meals.  The kind of dish or soup that you combine on the stove and serve up with some crusty bread or a salad.

This recipe is adapted slightly from a Cooking Light recipe.  The cinnamon in this dish fills the house with a wonderful smell as it cooks.  Serve it up with some brown basmati rice or couscous, sauteed spinach, and a bold red wine.  It’s guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

beef tagine with butternut squash

1 pound beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

fresh cilantro for garnishing (optional)

Combine paprika, cinnamon, salt, ginger, red pepper (if using), black pepper, and cloves in a medium bowl.  Add beef cubes and toss to coat.  Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat.  Add beef and onions; cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add squash; cover, reduce heat,and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender.

You can stop right here and serve it up or, if it’s a little thin, you can add a thickener.  Place one tablespoon of flour in a coffee cup and slow add cold water while stirring until it’s creamy (but still thick).  Add to tagine while stirring.  Continue cooking 1-2 minutes while it thickens.

Serve with fresh cilantro.

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