Embrace Fall produce by learning how to roast the slightly sweet, and very versatile, butternut squash.
If you’ve been in a grocery store lately, you’ve probably seen piles of various winter squash. I’m embarrassed to admit this but until last year I wasn’t brave enough to bring home any of those beautifully colored, oddly shaped squashes. Instead I just stuck with what I knew: sweet potatoes. While sweet potatoes are still my go-to starchy vegetable, I’ve started to branch out and appreciate the different flavor profiles of winter squashes.
As far as I’m concerned, the easiest place to start with almost all vegetables is roasting. There’s something so magical about putting hard, essentially flavorless raw vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzling them with olive oil, roasting them, then taking a bite of the now perfectly soft and slightly sweet produce. And, just like sweet potatoes, butternut squash especially gets a wonderful sweetness after a brief stint in the oven.
So what’s so great about butternut squash? Flavor-wise, butternut squash is very similar to pumpkin in that it is sweet with a slight nutty undertones. In fact, some canned pumpkin puree actually also contains butternut squash puree – even if the can says 100% pumpkin! Because of this mild flavor, butternut squash goes great with many types of dishes from butternut squash ravioli in a browned butter sauce to a seasonal salad with goat cheese and cranberries to rich and spicy curries.
Nutritionally speaking, butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and C in the fleshy orange portion, as well as protein and healthy fats if you eat the seeds.
So let’s get roasting!
Step One: Rinse the outside of your squash to get any visible dirt off of the skin and preheat oven to 400F.
Step Two: Using a very sharp knife, cut the squash in half length-wise.
Step Three: Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds like you would with a pumpkin. Feel free to throw the seeds out or keep for roasting on their own later.
Step Four: Brush both sides of the squash halves with extra-virgin olive oil.
Step Five: Place squash halves cut-side down on a baking sheet.
Step Six: Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the tough outside skin.
Step Seven: Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to touch, cut and remove tough skin per directions of your recipe of choice.
Note most butternut squashes are around 2-3 lb but they can get as big as 5 lb! Most recipes specify how many ounces of squash flesh you need. So, to calculate how many ounces of edible squash you will get, simply subtract the weight of the whole squash by 3-oz (this will account for weight lost after removing the skin and seeds).
To get you started, here are a couple of my go-to butternut squash recipes:
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