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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Fall Flavors of Squash and Cranberry : Make Tasty and Healthy Pasta Topping

Oct 28, 2018 06:26PM

Photo courtesy of ILFMA

Buttercup squash is a variety of winter squash providing a high dose of vitamin A and C, great for protecting the eyes and fighting off germs during flu season. There are many different types of winter squash that are similar, but not the same. Buttercup is dark green and looks like an acorn (although it is not the variety known as acorn squash). Butternut squash is better known and could be used instead. Cranberries are considered a superfood, with a huge amount of antioxidant properties. The two are in season at the farmers’ markets and fit right in to a holiday menu.

        Try to embrace the extreme tart flavor of this fruit. The combination of squash and cranberry is a perfect play on sweet and sour. The recipe is contributed by Lauren Woodbridge, who serves as a member of the Illinois Farmers Market Association board of directors and co-owns The Kitchen Sink (, a local bagel company specializing in organic, local bagels sold at Chicago farmers’ markets.


Buttercup Squash Pasta with Pickled Cranberry Sauce

Total time: 45 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

1 box whole wheat noodles
     (penne or linguine are favorites


Pickled Cranberry Sauce

2 pints (4 cups) fresh cranberries

¾ cup apple cider vinegar

¾ cup water

¾ cup brown sugar

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp mulling spices (clove, citrus, allspice,

½ tsp peppercorns

1 sprig of rosemary

Zest of half an orange


Buttercup Squash Sauce

1 buttercup squash (about 2 lbs),
    about 3 cups peeled and cut into chunks

½ red onion, cut into chunks

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

5 canned artichoke hearts

2 stems marjoram leaves

1 Tbsp olive oil

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

Water or veg stock, if necessary

Micro greens, optional 

Preheat oven to 400°.


Cranberry sauce:

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaf, salt, spices, peppercorns and orange zest.

Bring to a simmer for a couple minutes and remove from heat. Strain out herbs and spices, leaving the liquid in the pot.

Add cranberries. Simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes. Allow to reduce and thicken.

Start squash while this is simmering.


Buttercup squash sauce:

Add squash, garlic, onion, oil (not olive oil), salt and pepper to a sheet tray.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool.

Add cooked squash, onions and garlic to food processor. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, artichoke hearts and marjoram, and blend until mostly smooth—some lumps are fine. Add a few teaspoons of water or stock, if necessary.



Cook pasta as directed in salted water and return to the pot once drained. Add as many scoops of the squash mixture as you like. Toss together.

Serve with a couple scoops of cranberry sauce, a pinch of black pepper and top with micro greens (optional).


The Illinois Farmers Market Association (ILFMA) supports local food and food systems by giving Illinois farmers’ markets and producers access to resources, education and connections in order to grow healthier and economically vibrant communities. For more information, visit