Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) may just be the best of its kind. It’s sweet, rather creamy and pairs beautifully with so many other foods. And even though it tastes decadent, it’s ridiculously healthy. (It’s also a snap to grow!)
Roasted squash mixes well with other roasted vegetables and makes the perfect accompaniment to turkey or chicken.
Photo Credit: Brett Mulcahy
Butternut squash is easy to work with. Just peel it with a small, sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Then split it in half with a large, sharp knife and scoop out the seeds.
Photo Credit: Catsi
Turn your homegrown bounty of butternut squash into an array of delicious and healthy dishes!
Photo Credit: Baloncici
One of the easiest ways to enjoy this veggie is to just cut it into cubes and roast. You’ll have a great side dish for pork chops and grilled or baked chicken. It’s also wonderful with turkey and makes a delicious addition to the Thanksgiving table. Here’s how to make it:
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons or so extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If desired, line cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. (Otherwise, spray your cookie sheet with nonstick spray.)
Spread the cubed squash out on the cookie sheet. Drizzle the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Toss thoroughly with your hands.)
Roast for 30-45 minutes until the squash is slightly charred on the edges and is starting to slightly shrink. It should be tender but not mushy since it will continue to cook – and perhaps fall apart – once it’s out of the oven. (It would still taste fine, but it would look less appealing.)
Serve either hot or at room temperature.
To add more flavor and interest to your roasted squash, try the following options:
- Toss fresh or dried sage, rosemary, cumin, thyme or cayenne pepper with the squash before roasting.
- After roasting, drizzle with a little top-quality balsamic vinegar for a sweet-tart combo.
- Toss the cubes with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar or maple syrup before roasting to pump up the squash’s natural sweetness. (This is a great way to make kids a squash fan!)
- Make the flavor more piquant by squeezing a little lime or lemon on the squash either right before or right after roasting.
Of course, you don’t have to relegate roasted squash to just a side dish. Serve it at room temperature atop a salad of bitter greens like arugula or chicory. Add some toasted almonds for crunch and, if you want, some dried cranberries for yet another layer of flavor. Mix with a vinaigrette.
Pasta with winter squash is a classic Italian combination, too. Toss cooked pasta with heavy cream, butter and lots of freshly grated Parmesan. Then top with chunks of roasted squash (and perhaps some fresh thyme) for a delicious and hearty meal.
You can also make a fast, flavorful soup with roasted butternut squash: Sauté some onions in a pan with garlic. Add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and add the roasted squash. Simmer for a few minutes, and you have a great soup. Add a drained can of chickpeas, some turmeric, hot pepper and cumin and you have another hearty, great soup! And if you don’t enjoy the chunks, purée it for a rich and creamy feast served with a robust artisan loaf of bread.
You can even go south with your squash: Wrap your roasted cubes in a warm tortilla with slivers of red onion, a squeeze of lime and any fruit-based salsa like a mango or pineapple mix. Add a dollop of sour cream and you’ll feel like you’re in Old Mexico.
And here’s still another handy, quick-meal trick: Make roasted squash the star of a meal by adding some chunks of sausage or slivers of salami near the end of roasting time. A side of crusty bread makes this an easy, filling feast!
Even if you’re not a big fan of this vegetable, consider giving butternut squash another whirl in your recipe book. The natural nutty, sweet flavors combined with a good dose of vitamins – not to mention the variety of recipes it works with – make it a natural go-to veggie for just about any meal!