butternut squash and couscous stew

I think I had lost sight of how ridiculous group fitness music was until the other night when I was in a Body Attack class and we warmed up to a techno remix of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I later told the GS this and he told me HE’S NEVER HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE.

Mind. Blown.

Is it weirder that he doesn’t know it or that I know all the words and have the regular version AND the Clay Aiken version in my iTunes?

Don’t answer that.

If you’ve never taken a Les Mills class before, don’t be put off by the crazy music. It’s super inspiring and I’m kind of obsessed.

I’ve been teaching three classes a week now which, trust me, is doing wonders for the large ganglions in my wrists. I picked up a new class and wanted to impress them by making it really hard but then I accidentally made it so that we did 64 push-ups. And then had to teach that same mix 5 more times.

I’m still teaching at Loyola and aside from that fact that it makes  me want to vomit when a girl struts in wearing a shirt that says “Class of 2017,” our numbers have been very low. I think they’re all intimidated by the equipment and would rather watch Real Housewives on the elliptical or whatever people who were born in 1995 watch on television. Last week I had one boy in my class who just packed up his stuff and left halfway through. Lame.

Where was I going with this? Oh. Last night when I was teaching there to a whopping 4 people (I know you’re thinking that I must suck as an instructor, but my Wednesday class at my other gym had 52 people thankyouverymuch), all I could think about was this dinner waiting for me when I finished.

It’s that good. Bring on the push-ups.

Butternut Squash and Couscous Stew

adapted from Anne Burrell

serves 4-6

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups butternut squash, chopped into small pieces

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup whole wheat couscous (uncooked)

2-3 scallions

4 eggs (optional)

olive oil, salt, pepper, CRP

Start with the squash- it can be time consuming to chop. I took off the bottom rounded portion altogether- this is where the seeds are and by the time you scoop them out there isn’t much meat (?) left, so just skip it. Avoid the heartache. Take the longer part and chop off the ends and peel it, then chop into small pieces. Depending on the size of your squash, you won’t use all of it for this recipe. Save the extra and make butternut squash penne or risotto.

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Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the onions with a handful of salt and some crushed red pepper (aka CRP, I’m being cool today), and allow them to sweat out for 5-6 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the squash- we want to start to cook it but also get a little of that caramel-y roasted flavor from searing in the olive oil. Add the garlic and allow it to cook for another 2-3 minutes, then pour in the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Stir together. If you want a thinner consistency of your stew, you can always add more chicken stock later on.

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Toast your couscous in a little bit of olive oil for a few minutes until it smells nutty and delicious (you can skip this step if you REALLY want to but I think it’s cool). Cook in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes until just before al dente. This cooking time may be different depending on the size of your couscous. Add the couscous to the stew.

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This was a make-ahead meal for me, so I turned the heat off at this point because I knew the couscous would have time to soak up the flavors. If you’re serving it right away, just let it cook for a few more minutes.

Now, the EGGS. This was a stroke of brilliance (I think) and really a game time decision. I was about to serve it and I thought, what if I threw a fried egg on top?! With some scallions to garnish?! That would be wild.

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And it was.

Eggs make everything better. A little sunny-side-up action? Yes please. You can leave it off if you want (I guess) and it will probably taste the same (it won’t).

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I’ll tell you about the bread we had with this very soon.

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