I was chosen by my charming friend Joanne of Eats Well With Others to participate in a “Recipe Impossible” challenge. The premise was to use winter squash, one of her (and mine!) favorite things in the whole world, along with two ingredients that Marx Foods sent me as part of a ‘goodie’ box. The goodie box had eight ingredients in it:
-powdered maple sugar
-aji panca chiles
I made two things, the first of which I’m not going to enter in the challenge, not because it isn’t good, but because the second is better. I simmered cubes of butternut squash and chick peas in coconut milk with fennel pollen, five spice powder, ginger salt, coconut sugar, cayenne and the chiles, then spooned it over whole wheat couscous. Sweet and warmly spiced with a little bit of heat it was mildly addicting. If you’ve never had five spice powder it’s made of a mixture of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cloves and szechuan peppercorns to represent all five flavors: sweet, salty, pungent, sour and bitter. That’s the addicting part! I realized just how much I love five spice powder, a spice mix that is underrated and underused.
Then I had the bright idea to make squash patties. I mashed up cooked butternut squash, mixed it with cooked couscous and seasoned it in a similar way with fennel pollen, five spice, ginger salt and a little bit of smoked paprika. This was my first time using fennel pollen. It’s not as sweet as fennel, and has a bright and bold flavor with a floral scent. I did some research and found out it is sometimes called angels wings. And then I found out why. As I was was about to take the first bite the unmistakable scent of the fennel pollen drifted right up my nose. And stopped time for a moment. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
I paired the butternut squash patties with a coconut milk and peanut butter sauce made with coconut sugar, soy sauce and vinegar. For serving I also gave them a sprinkle of honey roasted peanuts, chopped cilantro and ginger salt. I used three ingredients out of the goodie box in this recipe; the fennel pollen, ginger salt and coconut sugar.
I’m sending out big thank-yous to Joanne and Marx Foods for letting me participate!
Butternut Squash and Couscous Patties with Coconut Peanut Sauce
2 cups butternut squash, cooked and mashed
1 +1/2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked
1 heaping teaspoon fennel pollen
3/4 teaspoon ginger salt, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 heaping tablespoon coconut sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
butter, for pan-frying
olive oil, for pan-frying
fresh cilantro or thai basil, chopped, for garnish
1. In a medium bowl combine squash, couscous, fennel pollen, salt, five spice, paprika and bread crumbs. Form into six 1/2 cup sized patties. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Warm up the coconut milk, whisk in peanut butter, then soy sauce and vinegar. Taste and tweak if needed.
3. In a large skillet heat about 1/2 teaspoon butter with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the patties until browned about 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve with sauce, fresh herbs, a sprinkle of peanuts and ginger salt.
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