Brightening The Dreary Winter Dinner

Winter may be an ugly blah time of year, but your evening dinner plate does not have to be. There’s more to winter meals than mashed potatoes, boiled vegetables and brown meats. Instead, you can load your plate with vibrant, deep colors by buying inexpensive winter vegetables. We need bright colors right now. They not only lift our spirits, but the dark colors usually mean more vitamins. No, we’re not cheating and buying out of season watermelon or pretending those hot-tomatoes taste great, nor are we settling for winter greens like kale and mustard. (Although, they do have their place.) I’m talking about black beans, squash, avocados, red onions and sweet potatoes. Delicious in winter, and the bonus of  pretty colors and vitamins.

Black beans and pumpkin. Together? In the same dish? The restaurant that introduced me to this eclectic combination of pumpkin, black beans, and cheese is now gone. (It was the one that served that delicious “green butter” with the bread, remember it?) Yet, the combination was so good, and so easy to replicate at home. The walls of this restaurant carried art from around the world, and a menu that boasted of South American cuisine.


Here’s what you’ll need to make this dish:

  • Cubed or canned pumpkin or cooked butternut squash
  • Can of black beans
  • Red Onions
  • Cheese, your preference
  • Tortia Shells
  • Splash of red wine vinegar or fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Fresh herbs, parsley
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cubed pumpkin is best, although canned pumpkin will work just as well. You could also slice a butternut squash in half, bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven and cut out the cubes.
  2. Throw a tortilla shell on a nonstick griddle with a splash of olive oil and salt.
  3. Add the rinsed and drained black beans, followed by the pumpkin/squash, and whatever cheese you have on hand. Monterrey Jack, with hot peppers, is perfect.
  4. Top with sliced red onions and fresh Italian Parsley.
  5. Heat until cheese melts, and then give the beans a splash of red wine vinegar and sea salt. Top with another tortilla shell, flip to toast the other side.



Dessert? Must include something with dark, delicious frozen berries, picked last summer.

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