It all started on a hike through Montenegro with loads of
mountain sage growing along the trail.
At first I just picked a few leaves to sniff and play with while hiking,
but soon my gathering instinct got the better of me and I had a huge
bouquet by the time we reached the summit.
I love the smell and taste of sage and have become even more
interested in cooking with it since learning about its medicinal properties in
my herbalism apprenticeship last year. Sage has strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity, so it’s great to have on hand when you’ve
been exposed to someone with a bug, or during the changing of the seasons. Best
of all it tastes amazing and it a terrific addition to many dishes (and teas –
my current favorite is green tea with sage!).
After coming home with my gigantic bouquet of sage I set to
work pulling together the perfect sagey meal.
I decided on a classic combination – sweet butternut squash with sage,
but made a few tweaks to create this healthier, whole foods version.
Quinoa Pasta with Butternut Squash and Mountain Sage
Ingredients (3 servings):
2/3 box of quinoa pasta (regular pasta also works)
3 cups of chopped butternut squash
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried sage
4 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by mincing the garlic and setting it to the side. I recently learned that garlic intensifies its cancer-fighting phytonutrients if left to sit for 10 minutes after being
cut (thank you Eating on the Wild Side!).
Next, chop your onions and put them in a frying pan on medium heat with 2
tablespoons of olive oil. Give them an
initial stir to separate and then let sit for five minutes so they begin to
While the onions are cooking chop the squash. I typically leave the skin on my squash –
especially for a recipe like this. It is
totally edible and adds additional fiber to the dish (plus saves you the hassle
of peeling the squash). Add the squash, garlic, chopped sage, and remaining olive oil to the pan and stir.
The squash will need at least 30 minutes to cook on the
stove-top. The trick is to stir the pan
about every 4 minutes. You want to keep
anything from burning, but allow things to brown and caramelize.
Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and cook the
pasta based on the instructions on the back of the package. Grate the parmesan while the pasta is
After draining the pasta put it back into the pot, add the
squash sauté, the grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix everything together well so the pasta is
fully coasted and the cheese is melty. Serve hot and enjoy!
Squash is one of the best fall superfoods and great to get
into the habit of eating. There are so
many varieties and millions of cooking options. Butternut squash is a nutritional workhorse. It’s best known for its high levels of caretenoids, most notably beta-carotene, which has been shown to protect against heart disease, have anti-cancer properties, and help prevent macular degeneration. In addition, butternuts have lots of potassium (good for bone health), vitamin B6 (nervous system and immune system support), and loads of vitamin C (immune support). So, scoop some up at the farmers market and get cooking!