Butternut Squash Noodle, Black Bean, and Kale Enchilada Bowls
My best friend Google Analytics tells me that a lot of you are searching for Whole30, “detox,” and “cleanse” recipes on the site lately. This trend speaks to me because I, too, feel like September is an excellent time to get one’s shit together on the healthy eating front. New (school) year, new you, etc. You go, Glen Coco!
But, as you may or may not know, I’m not a big fan of traditional cleanses, detoxes, or super restrictive diets in general. Having tried many back in the day—including a particularly fun 3-day adventure that involved eating a combination of hard-boiled eggs, hot dogs, and vanilla ice cream—I know that they don’t work for me. Sure, they helped a girl drop a few lbs in the short term (and in the case of the hot dogs, wriggle into a previously unzippable leopard skirt for approximately 4 hours), but I typically felt homicidal while following them and always gained back any weight lost as soon as I had a bite of normal food.
All of this is to say that when I’m looking to do a little healthy reset, I try not to go overboard in terms of restriction. Instead, I make a concerted effort to limit refined sugar and carbohydrates while eating satisfying, nutrient-dense meals containing as many vegetables as humanly possible. My lunches typically involve giant salads, and dinners tend to look a lot like this Butternut Squash Noodle, Black Bean, and Kale Enchilada Bowl, which I was thrilled to resurrect last week as soon as the temperature in NYC dropped below 80 degrees.
I’m a die-hard fan of all things butternut squash, and one of my favorite veggie-centric fall recipes is butternut squash and black bean enchiladas. I love me some sweet and savory flavors, and there’s nothing quite like a spicy enchilada sauce with a hint of smoke to warm you up from the inside out.
However, I’m not always down with the prep time on traditional enchiladas—you know they’ll run you at least an hour—or the heaviness that accompanies several tortillas and a layer of bubbling cheese. (We’re resetting, dammit!) That’s where these super easy and remarkably light enchilada bowls come in. Made with spiralized butternut squash, black beans, kale, and a sprinkling of (optional) goat cheese for creamy tang, this comfort food fiesta always hits the spot, is loaded with fiber, potassium, and disease-fighting antioxidants, and comes together in under 30 minutes! MAGIC.
In addition to its deliciousness, what excites me most about this recipe is the endless you do you options. The recipe is vegan if you omit the optional cheese, but if you’re a meat lover or attached to someone prone to “Where’s the meat?!” meltdowns, feel free to add some diced chicken or turkey sausage or shredded chicken to your bowls. Pinto or white beans are delightful subs for black bean haters, sweet potato works just as well as butternut squash, and I encourage you to play with different cheeses. I also love this bowl topped with avocado or guacamole when I’m feeling particularly extra.
If you’re panicking because you don’t have a spiralizer, chill. You’ve got a couple options. First, many markets now sell pre-spiralized butternut squash (or sweet potato) noodles, so look for those in the produce section. Second, you can always simply cube your butternut squash and roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes. Roasted squash has a slightly different vibe but still tastes delightful, I promise.
Butternut Squash Noodle, Black Bean and Kale “Enchilada” Bowls (Serves 4)
One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 chipotle pepper canned in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the chipotle can
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups chopped curly kale (center ribs removed)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, spiralized using the setting that makes thin spaghetti noodles, noodles trimmed
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Lime wedges and hot sauce for serving (optional)
-Start by making the enchilada sauce. Combine the tomato sauce, vegetable broth, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, and garlic sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a very gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
-Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in an extra-large skillet or wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the kale and cook for 1 minute, just until it’s beginning to soften.
-Add the butternut squash noodles and cook, stirring or tossing regularly with tongs (I recommend the latter!) until the squash is tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
-Add the black beans and 2/3 of the enchilada sauce to the pan and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until the beans are heated through.
-Divide the noodle mixture between four bowls, top with the remaining enchilada sauce, and garnish with cilantro and goat cheese (if using). Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce if you like.
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