About a month ago I was out with my friend Katherine for her birthday at a fancy new vegetarian restaurant in NYC. When I walked in, this handsome bartender gave me a big toothy friendly smile and I was like, wow, he’s either really friendly or is crazy (it’s NYC after all and people so infrequently just smile because they are nice).

We went up to the bar and Katherine began ordering us cocktails. “Two, and no straws because, you know, Trash is for Tossers.

The mysterious bartender goes, “I know who she is,” and smiles.

A few minutes into our cocktails while we waited for our table, Katherine went to the bathroom and the mysterious bartender who knew about my blog came up to me. “Hey”, he said. “I’m Max, and this isn’t a pitch, but I am a chef…” and proceeded to tell me a bit about himself, a Connecticut native with aspirations for clean, healthy, plant-based, seasonal cooking. It might not have been a pitch, but I was sold. He was handsome, smart, cooks only vegetarian, and had the confidence to come up and say hello.

One week later, he was at the Package Free office and along with my team, we crafted a selection of recipes that we will be sharing with you. Recipes that are simple, delicious, and developed specifically for the zero waste cook.

The first, an insanely versatile and easy to make farmers market butternut squash spread/dip that will take you from Thanksgiving up to the end of squash season.

But first, how to keep it zero waste:


  • 1 butternut squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 TB tahini
  • loaf of fresh-baked bread – we recommend asiago
  • thyme and sage for garnish (optional)



  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut your butternut squash down the middle top to bottom (make sure you have a sharp and long knife – and be careful, always 😉
  3. Gut the inside of the butternut squash using a spoon, placing pulp and seeds into your compost bowl, or save seeds to roast later with a little evoo, salt and pepper. Yum.
  4. Place your butternut squash halves, pulp side up, in a casserole dish (we lined ours with parchment paper to reduce post-cooking cleanup) and lightly drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper for flavor.
  5. Cook until tender and soft and your butternut squash starts to create a bit of golden goodness on the top layer – about 45-50 minutes.
  6. While squash is cooking, slice your bread into thick pieces and place in the oven for a bit to get all nice and toasty.
  7. Take the cooked squash out of the oven and drizzle any excess, warm olive oil from the squash into a blender, food processor or bowl (if you use a handheld blender). Next, scoop the cooked squash out and add to the bowl. Make sure to compost your parchment paper and squash skins. 
  8. Add a drizzle of a bit more olive oil, cinnamon, cardamon, garlic and tahini to your cooked squash and blend until combined into a thick, creamy spread.
  9. Spread a generous spoonful of the squash mixture onto your toasted slices of bread.
  10. If you’d like, add a garnish of thyme, or some crispy sage (we crisped up some sage leaves by sauteeing them in butter – so delicious!)
  11. Serve immediately while still warm. You could also serve the dip in a dish with smaller slices of toasted bread, crackers, warmed pita, vegetables, etc. to dip into the butternut squash dip. It’s so versatile!
  12. Store all leftovers in an airtight container  to keep in your fridge. Enjoy the rest within a few days. 

Here are some ideas on how to use any leftovers: add to fresh cooked pasta and fry up some extra sage for a fall pasta. Add to toast with eggs for a fall breakfast, make a sandwich with fresh farmers cheese and roasted vegetables for lunch, use as the base of a salad dressing, or just eat it by the spoonful – it’s that good!



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