Packed Lunch with Butternut Squash and Tahini Puree

butternut tahini puree

Posting a recipe for “puree” makes me feel as though I’m a thirty-year-old woman who eats stuff that looks and sounds like baby food. Which, let’s face it, is the truth. When the baby food in question is as easy and simple as this butternut squash and tahini puree, I’ll own it.

On Wednesday, I had been immersed in work all morning long when I realized that I had about five minutes to pack up my and leave for campus. If you think that veganism is “high maintenance”—impossible to pull of in a time crunch—then I hope this lunch changes your mind. Certainly not the fanciest meal you’ll see on this blog, nor my most creative packed lunch, but in a mere five minutes, I managed to scrounge together something filling, tasty, and nutritious:


Cooked quinoa, Flackers, greens, and a small mason jar filled with butternut squash and tahini puree. Greens, crunch, and comfort. (Or should I be more alliterative and say chlorophyll, crunch, and comfort?)

Wednesdays are a long day for me—class starts mid-morning and goes until 10 pm—and this midday meal was just what the doctor ordered.


So, curious about the puree? In truth, this is something I made simply because I had butternut squash that I’d peeled and cut in the hopes that I’d later do something creative with it, but life got in the way, and it was coming perilously close to the squash’s expiration time. When all else fails, make mush.


Butternut Squash and Tahini Puree (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes 4-6 servings

2 or 2 1/2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
Black pepper to taste

1. Steam butternut squash till tender (or use a microwave if that’s easier).

2. Place squash in a food processor or high speed blender along with salt, pepper, and tahini; I like 3 tbsp because the sesame doesn’t overwhelm the delicate butternut flavor, but you can use more if you’re a tahini junkie 🙂 Puree, season to taste, and serve.

You can serve this straight up, or thin it a bit with lemon or apple cider vinegar to make it pair well with greens–someting in between puree and dressing. That’s how I brought it to school, and it was great atop both my greens and my quinoa.

Along with all of this, I packed a couple of my latest raw ball creation with nuts and dates. This one is chocolate themed, and very delicious:


But you’ll have to wait till Sunday for the recipe!

The key to this lunch, as with so many of mine, is preparedness. Make quinoa on an off night. Use up veggies like butternut squash before they go bad by doing something very simple: if you wait and wait to cook the fancy dinner you planned, you may find that the opportunity never comes and you let great produce go to waste. Come up with easy, minimalist preparations that please your palate and fit into your busy schedule.

This weekend, I was supposed to be at Anne’s wedding in Virginia. Unexpectedly and sadly, I’m in New York right now instead, for the memorial service of someone close to me. I’ll be very sorry to miss Anne’s celebration, but I’ll be thinking of her and Matt all weekend long, and beaming love and congratulatory wishes to them from afar.


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Categories: Dips
Ingredients: Butternut Squash, Tahini
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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  1. Thinking of you Gena. May you find comfort amoungst those you love, I am so sorry for your loss.

    No need to explain the puree! I do it all the time and call it soup 😉 usually a very think soup, heh. I have yet to combine with tahini though, my go to is cumin. Thanks for a yummy new combo!

  2. And now my very belated condolences also. I’m far away. I care. I’m in awe of your ability to drop everything and go because you care. I send you best wishes for healing from the sadness–for you and everyone who loves the departed.

  3. Sorry to hear the sad news, Gena. I hope your time was bolstered by the love of family and friends, however sad. xo

  4. Hi there, thanks so much for your tip. I like chickpea-tahini hummus but never thought of using squash instead of chickpeas. It’s squash / pumpkin season in Europe right now and I have some spaghetti squash leftovers in my fridge, so this recipe has just been sent from heaven :-)). Great idea for my take-away office lunch. Merci!

  5. Mmmm looks like my kinda lunch! I have some organic butternut in the fridge which needs using, and I’m thinking of making a thicker version of this (more tahini) with some spices added in to use as a dip.

  6. Yum, this looks wonderful and so simple, gotta try it soon!

  7. Gena this is one of my favourite recipes, the only difference in the one I make has a bunch of chopped parsley. It makes a great dip for red peppers and other veggies.

    So sorry for your loss. I know it is another loss for you to have to miss Anne’s wedding. I hope all the healing you send out to all of us every day comes back to you tenfold.

  8. Oh my gourd! 🙂 Mmmmm I may turn into a butternut squash soon, so thanks for a twist on my favorite Fall veg – looks delicious (not to mention easy and travel-friendly). PS I think you should be a professional lunch-packer – you have quite a talent for the portable meal, Mademoiselle!

    • and…. more importantly, so sorry for your loss. Sending my best to you and those around you. Keep smiling.

  9. Gena, thank you so making a vegan lifestyle look so flexible, simple and doable in the midst of high peak in your life. It really is so empowering see as an avid reader of your blog; and you speak to me on so many levels. I know something I myself struggle with is trying to be the “perfect” vegan making my meals look picturesque and put- together and all, and I won’t take an less than that. But getting away from that mentality, and being ok with that is complete freedom for me. Saying, ” you know I’d love to have a hugh mass salad with the usual toppings and being a creature of habit with that, but I studied chem till pretty late last night and lab is fairly early so I’m just going to grab a hummus sandwich or a sunshine burger and some greens for a change.” For me, that’s still an area of growth but slowly but surly I’m getting there and ok with that. So I commend you, Gena, for being a truly inspiring influence on so many levels 🙂

  10. Oh Gena. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I arrived back in New York myself this afternoon, en route to Toronto very swoon. I am sending you hugs and hugs and hugs and hugs from the Financial District, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s anything I can do. Even if this simple involves tracking down more Flackers for you and dropping them off like an invisible pixie.

  11. Sorry for your loss, Gena. I hope you are able to get a little bit of solace and comfort this weekend.

  12. I’m sorry about the unfortunate circumstances. I’ll be sending love and positivity your way.

    Thanks for giving us this simple and tasty recipe and reminding us that time is no excuse not to eat well!

  13. So sorry for your loss Gena.

    Interesting you posted about squash-tahini, as my husband had the exact idea for that the other day and we used it instead of sweet potato mash on a pot pie. It was delicious! And I don’t think you owe any apologies for pureeing squash, it’s one of those things that improves with pureeing I think, like in soup.

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss, Gena. Your lunch looks nutritious and flavorful.

  15. I’ve been a creeper for a while but never really commented on your wonderful blog. I’m so glad you’ve posted this recipe. I have a nearly-full jar of tahini in my cupboard, and while I’ve made roasted red pepper hummus and a couple of simple dressings, I’ve neglected this delicious, creamy goodness. I must remedy that quickly–and what better way than using one of my all-time favorite autumn veggies, butternut squash?!

    While I’m not vegan (yet? who knows, it’s something I think about constantly but I’m not quite there), I have found your blog to be so inspirational. I was a picky eater growing up, and in college I ate a lot of crap, even though I’ve always been pretty fit. Now I’m much more in tune with the foods my body needs, and I’ve been experimenting with a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes. Even my husband loves (most of) them. 🙂

    I love these packed lunch posts–I’m not any where close to being as busy as you–but it can get boring packing the same old stuff for lunch at an 8-5 job. I can’t wait to try this puree and maybe one of your collard wraps next week in the office.

    Also, my condolences for your loss.

  16. i usually shy away from acorn squash..just not a fan so i’m happy you have giving the bnut some love here lady! ::hugs:: for the service, what a bummer but at least you know you are needed and loved in both of those events. unfortunately, we science nerds have not been able to clone each other just yet. ;p

  17. So sorry to hear about the person’s passing, Gena. You never cease to inspire me with your strength and positivity. xo

  18. Thanks to you, I am making a lot more meal-sized salads lately and enjoying them on the nights when I have class until 10pm. Thank you for continuing to blog through your busy schedule and sharing simple, wholesome, portable recipes. I’ve gotten really into tahini salad dressings (which I never would have tried without your blog!) so I am really excited to try this one.

    Gena, I am so very sorry for your loss. May the memorial service and other loved ones bring you peace and comfort.

    • Maurice,

      I don’t happen to use a microwave myself–not because I have any kind of robust or conclusive proof that it’s harmful, but because I am accustomed not to having one and prefer steaming, boiling, and baking. That said, a lot of my readers do use the microwave for convenience’s sake, and that’s their choice. I’m offering up this option to those who use it and find that it makes their busy lives a little more simple. That’s all. You should certainly use the steaming option if that’s your choice.


  19. Let me superficially start by saying that I might actually make this puree! Well, there’s a good chance I sub in sweet potato for the squash because that’s what I have on hand, but I need a new way to use tahini. Go you!

    On a serious note, I am so sorry for whatever loss it is that you’ve experienced. I know how close you are to Anne, so I can only (sadly) assume that this loss is greatly impacting your heart. May you take comfort in your memories and find peace this weekend as you work through the details of this. XOXO