As much as I adore spending lots of time in the kitchen and making an abundance of different dishes for guests, when it comes down to the day-to-day practicalities of my life, I tend be a bit partial to making dinner fast – usually within 15 minutes!
There is a real art to making quick dinners. I learned this intuitively when I decided that I wanted nutritious, healthy, plant-based meals (that were tasty) – fast. You see, I just don’t want to compromise on any of the goodness.
It’s all about choosing the right ingredients (ones that cook quickly) and getting in the flow.
Super fast dinners
Now, being totally honest here, I make this in 15 minutes. I am however, super fast at peeling and chopping, which helps. If you are newer to the kitchen or prefer to take things at a more reasonable pace, it might take a few minutes longer with the preparation.
Boil the squash (super fast) OR bake it (takes longer)?
To make this Butternut Squash & Ginger Sauce in 15 minutes, we are going to boil the squash rather than bake it.
However, if you have the time, then I do recommend baking the squash (which obviously takes longer). I sometimes bake it the night before when I am baking a different dinner (or a cake or something), in which case, when I am ready to make dinner the next night, the squash is already done and this actually becomes a 10 minute dinner!
Baking has the added advantage of bringing out the sweet, earthy depth of flavour from the squash. Baking is my favourite option if I have thought about it in advance. However, creating the sauce works really well by simply boiling the squash until soft (as written in the recipe below) – because it takes on the gorgeous flavours of the coconut and ginger etc. when blended.
To make dinner happen quickly it’s important that you do everything in the right order. It’s like a dance.
First thing to do is put a pan on the stove with some water and turn on the heat, so that it will be heating up whilst you chop the squash.
Next, you need chop the squash in half scrape the squash seeds out (and discard them) and peel off the skin. Then chop it into small cubes (smaller means they cook faster)… and pop it right into the hot water to boil. If you are used to chopping and peeling, you’ll have this done in a few minutes.
Then you’ll get the noodles ready (which only take 5 minutes to cook) by boiling another pan of water in the meantime. Preparing everything else should be quick…. peeling and chopping the ginger, getting the coconut and peas ready. Easy peasy!
The squash will take less than 10 minutes to cook (especially if you have chopped the cubes small enough). When it’s ready, you simply drain off the water, add the other ingredients (except peas) and blend. To save on washing up, I just blend right there in the pan with a hand (immersion) blender.
In the meantime the noodles would have been cooked and strained (I usually toss the peas into the noodles to be honest, a couple of minutes into the noodle cooking time).
All these tips mean you can have a super healthy, tasty and nutritious gluten-free, vegan dinner in 15 minutes (or thereabouts).
Here’s a handy printable version of the full recipe with instructions… Enjoy!
- 300g rice noodles
- 3 large handfuls frozen peas
- 1 small butternut squash (between 800g & 1kg)
- ½ inch cubed fresh ginger
- Big pinch sea salt
- Big twist of black pepper
- 150ml coconut cream ( ⅔ cup)
- 125ml water saved from water in cooking process ( ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander (optional)
- Put water in a pan and turn on the heat, placing on the lid.
- Peel and cube the squash into small pieces and then pop straight into the pan to cook (make sure there is enough water to just cover the squash.
- Get the ginger ready by peeling and chopping into small pieces (or grate with a fine grater).
- In the meantime get another pan for the rice noodles. Put plenty of water in and bring it to the boil. Once it is boiling, pop the noodles in and turn it down to simmer. Rice noodles normally take about 5 minutes to cook, but check the instructions on your packet.
- After the noodles have been cooking for a couple of minutes, pop in the frozen peas (if this stops the boiling process just turn the heat right back up again). Once the noodles have cooked, strain with a strainer.
- When the squash is cooked (if the chunks are small, this should be done in less than 10 minutes), strain off the water - but save about 125ml ( ½ a cup) and add it back in right away. (I normally just guess this part to be honest and strain most of the water off and then leaving about 125ml in, because when I am in a hurry i don't really measure anything).
- Toss in the ginger, salt, pepper, coconut cream and mix for another minute - then blend until creamy. I find blending from a pan like this easiest with a hand blender (saves on washing up) although a jug blender will work well too.
- Mix the sauce with the noodles & peas and serve immediately.
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