The Race and the Recipe

Hi there! Well, for me it’s still the weekend, and I’m enjoying the time off.  I didn’t go anywhere interesting today, I was pretty content after yesterday‘s adventure.

I realize it’s been a while since I did a workout update, and I’ve been itching to post about it.  I think I’m finally falling into a good workout routine – it only took a month and a half!  So here is what my typical workout week looks like:

  • Monday: 2-3 mile run & shoulder strength
  • Tuesday: long stretch, arms & hardcore abs
  • Wednesday: easy run or cross/interval train & leg strength
  • Thursday: dance (legs, abs, cardio)!
  • Friday: longer run or cross/interval train & upper body
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: dance (legs, abs, cardio) or run & abs

I have decided that I actually want to get better at running.  This is probably the third time I have tried to get into running, but I have never stuck with it.  I was so easily discouraged but my slow times, my heavy legs, and overall lack of technique.  Never in my life have I been a runner.  I played sports all through middle school, but my one fallback was always my aerobic fitness and speed – I was always strong, never fast.

Over the past few months, I came to the conclusion that I need real a fitness challenge. I need something to work up to, otherwise I will plateau, and stop pushing myself in workouts.  It also makes things more fun! So, I have found it: The Chicago Turkey Trot 8k run on Thanksgiving day!  It’s not super competitive, so I won’t feel bad if I have to take walk breaks or anything.  But I’m excited!  It’s only about 5 miles, so I think I can work up to that in 7 weeks.

Now, for the recipe!

This summer, I went to Napa with my lovely friend Erin.  In our travels, we went to the town of St. Helena,  home of the St. Helena Olive Oil Company – where they make an amazing butternut squash pasta sauce. The past week, I could not stop thinking about this sauce, so there was only one thing to do – recreate it!

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Copycat Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

This sauce is a great combination of simple, roasted flavors, and works great as a creamy marinara substitute.  It is naturally vegan and gluten-free!  If you choose to home-roast all of your veggies like I did, this can be a time-consuming recipe – but feel free to cheat a little, and buy pre-roasted.  [[makes 4-5 cups]] prep time: 20-90 mins, cook time: 30 mins

What you’ll need:

  • 1 small-medium butternut squash
  • 2 fire-roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 15-20 basil leaves
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt to taste


  1. If roasting all your own veggies:  Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  If buying pre-roasted, or if you have a preferred roasting method, skip to step 3.
  2. For the squash: cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Sprinkle a little salt on the exposed side, and roast face down for 40-50 minutes or until tender.  For the garlic: follow Angela’s instructions for how to roast garlic.  I put the garlic and squash in at the same time.  For the red pepper:  If you have a gas burner, turn your stove on high.  Roast the pepper over fire, turning it until the skin is completely black.  Place in an airtight container immediately after removing from the fire and let it steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove the skin and seeds.  For the onion: Peel and roughly cut, place it on a baking sheet in a single layer, sprinkle with sea salt and roast about 30 minutes or until caramel in color.
  3. In a food processor, combine the herbs, onion and garlic, and process until coarsely chopped and well combined.  Add in the red pepper and process until the mixture is a creamy purée.  Transfer this mixture to a medium saucepan.
  4. Scoop out the roasted squash, and purée until thick and creamy.  Add the squash to the saucepan.
  5. Add olive oil, salt, and at least 1/4 cup of water to the pot, and mix.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Cook at a simmer until the desired consistency has been reached, about 20 minutes.  Stir often, and add more water if it cooks down too much.  The resulting sauce should be smooth and creamy.
  7. Turn off the heat, cover and let it cool, leaving the lid ajar.  If desired, serve fresh and hot!
  8. Otherwise, once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, store in a glass jar, and refrigerate for many delicious meals to come!

[[substitution notes: this would probably work well with pumpkin or sweet potato purée, if you do not have access to fresh squash. But I highly recommend fresh butternut!  Dried herbs will work as well, but again, fresh give it so much more flavor.  Feel free to use any roasting / cooking method for the veggies, this is just how I chose to do it.]]

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halved squash - just scoop out the seeds, and roast away

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garlic prepped for roasting

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onion prepped for roasting (yes, she cooked with onions! for the authenticity of the sauce)

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squash and garlic, headed into the oven

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caramelized, roasted goodness

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red peppers roasting on an open fire (make sure your kitchen fan is on!)

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fire roasted red peppers. these smell amazing!

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nothing like fresh herbs!

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blend it all up!

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use an old sauerkraut jar to store, if you don't have any others big enough.

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if you're strange like me and don't make pasta that often, eat over eggs and spinach.

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or stranger, on a bed of massaged kale, spaghetti squash and tempeh, with some goat gouda crumbles

This would also be a great sauce over raw zucchini noodles!

I’m not sure how well I did with replicating this sauce, but it’s still delicious.  It tastes like marinara’s nutrient-rich, creamier, slightly sweeter cousin – dare I say I like it better than a standard tomato sauce? If anyone takes the time to try this, let me know what you think!

Are you into running? How did you work up to your first running ‘race’ or event?

Do you make your own pasta sauce? Or do you prefer the jarred stuff?


8 thoughts on “The Race and the Recipe

  1. That’s a lot of excercise in a week!
    Or maybe I just think that because I don’t work out that much. Partly because I’m lazy and because I don’t think I’d have time for it.
    Are they short or long workouts?

  2. Cool sauce! I always want to make one but uaually end up with jarred but want to change this! The turkey trot sounds perfect, (at least you don’t have to dress like turkeys, although that would be pretty funny). Love your dance workouts there! I’m not what I would call a runner but just love a good run but I’ve never really gone over 5 miles, slow steady runs are a bit boring in my opinion 😉

  3. I’m so excited that you signed up for the race!! Running doesn’t come easy, but I feel like there’s an “a-ha!” moment when everything just clicks, and a lot of people don’t give it enough time! Good luck, I believe that you’ll make it there 🙂
    Butternut pasta sauce sounds soooo good! I’ve seen it in a jar, but I think homemade would taste much better and is probably healthier too!

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