Left Coast Surprise!

butternut squashThey say when life gives you lemons to make lemonade. Well, someone gave us the biggest butternut squash I have ever seen. When I went to Produce Junction, avocados were on the best sale ever. I already had the quinoa and have been wanting to prepare it in the traditional Peruvian style, with cocoa powder, so another one of my famous mash-ups is born!


  • 1 humongous Butternut Squash, so big, that when peeled and 1/2″ diced, it 3/4 fills the big turkey roaster pan.
  • 4 Sweet Red Peppers diced
  • 2 Fennel, fronds & all diced
  • 2 Spanish Onions chopped
  • 2″ Ginger Root
  • 10 Hass Avocados, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups Quinoa
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 generous Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 16 twists Black Pepper
  • 1 large bunch of Cilantro chopped
  • Water


Dump the diced Butternut Squash, Red Peppers, an Hass Avocados into the roasting pan. Saute’ the chopped Onions and Fennel in Olive Oil, then dump into the roasting pan. If the skillet is deep enough, toast the Quinoa in Olive Oil until slightly darkened, then add Cocoa Powder and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off burner and let stand for another 15 minutes. Then and it to the pan. Grate the Ginger Root on top. Grind the Pepper. Add the Cilantro. Toss it all together. Cover and and either bake it at 350º for an hour or slow bake for several hours at 200°. There’s no salt in it. Each person can add salt, if they wish, when they eat it.

This recipe includes two of the super foods. Avocados have healthy fats and quinoa provides a little protein. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Cilantro helps to cleanse the body from toxins. All the bright colors indicate beneficial bioflavonoids. Fennel helps lower blood pressure and aids digestion. Sweet red peppers provide Vitamins A and C.

At first, the people were not sure about it. A few said they didn’t like squash. I told them it had cocoa in it and asked them if I had ever made anything they didn’t like. They said No, and tried it. They loved it and persuaded others to try it. I came home with an empty pan.