During the summer it feels so easy to create meals that are vibrant and colorful. . .and as we segue into the colder months sometimes this feels to be more of a challenge. When you are feeling a bit blah, and need something pretty on the plate, turn to a seasonal vegetable ragout.
A ragout is just another (French) word for stew, though in Italy it can also refer to a thick sauce, but either way, it translates to comfort food.
So what we have here is hearty, and yet vegetarian (if you use vegetable broth), a fantastic way to find the balance between healthy and satisfying, plus a serious dose of good-lookingness (which is now officially a word). Protein from the beans, gorgeous color and nutrients from the squash, this is a meal on it’s own, or you could pile it on top of rice or pasta, or maybe even a big slab of grilled country bread drizzled with olive oil.
Just before serving you should consider a final drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper. Because this is so simple and there are pretty much no seasonings but the shallots, you’ll want to make sure there is enough salt and pepper to lift the flavors of the dish. You could also add some fresh chopped herbs at the end, like basil or thyme.
This is a really great addition to a cold weather meal, and great for holiday buffet. Also, if you entertain a lot or if you have vegetarians in your world you know how wonderful it is to find dishes that can serve as a substantial side for the carnivores and a main for the vegetarians. This is one of those dishes.
Butternut Squash and White Bean Ragout
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large shallots minced
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
- 1 15.5-ounce can cannelini beans rinsed and drained
- 1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves
- In a 12-inch deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender and lightly golden.
- Add the butternut squash and sauté until the squash is well coated with the oil and shallots, and turning golden a little in some spots, about 4 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the squash is fairly tender and the liquid is almost evaporated, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can remove the lid if the squash is getting tender and there is still excess liquid (more than a tablespoon or two) in the pan.
- Add the tomatoes and beans to the pan, stir well, raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Stir in the spinach (by handfuls, if necessary, so it doesn’t overflow the pan) and stir until the beans are hot and the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Check the seasonings and serve hot or warm.
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