South American Butternut Squash Stew (Locro)


Stew is often synonymous with a hearty meal filled with tender beef and potatoes. It’s not particularly appetizing to look at but the serious beef flavor (and hints of red wine or even a dark beer!) always put me in the happiest of food comas.

The South American version of stew consists of a colorful array of colors, flavors, and textures. It’s buttery and nutty from the squash; a tad sweet from the green beans and corn; and salty from the feta cheese and sausage. Top that with the crunch from the roasted squash seeds and anyone could agree it’s well-balanced stew.

Ingredients

4 lb butternut squash (7-8 cups diced)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 to 1.5 lb link hot Italian sausage, casing removed
4 cups sliced onions
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz)
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 jalepeno chil pepper, seeded and minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 lb green beans, stems removed, halved
1.5 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 tbs minced fresh cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to test
crumbed feta or cotija cheese
Roasted squash seeds (recipe below)

Directions

For the roasted squash seeds: preheat over to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For the stew: Peel squash using a potato peeler. Cut squash in half; remove seeds and reserve to roast. Dice squash flesh into 1-inch pieces; set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage; cook, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon, until sausage is brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Stir in onions; cook until they begin to soften, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.

Stir in squash, tomatoes, broth, jalapeno, oregano, and smoked paprika. Partially cover pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook stew, stirring occasionally, until squash is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Back to the squash seeds:  Rinse reserved seeds to remove any fibrous strands. Dry seeds with paper towels. Toss seeds with 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast seeds on prepared baking sheet for 15 minutes.

And to the stew: Add beans and corn. Partially cover pot; cook 10 minutes more. Stir in cilantro. Season stew with salt and pepper. Garnish stew with cheese and roasted squash seeds.

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