Local farmers’ markets in the Northeast are brimming with fresh squash in November. One of my favorites is the butternut squash. Don’t let the size and tough skin intimidate you, butternut squash is simple to prepare and an excellent addition to fall soups, casseroles, vegetable dishes as well as roasted on its own. We even made a great breakfast cereal last week using butternut squash as the base.
Butternut squash is a winter squash, beige in color, and has a smooth skin. As a general rule, the brighter the orange flesh, the sweeter the taste, which is similar to sweet potato. If the interior color fades to white, you know that it is old, and will lack flavor. When picking a butternut squash, it should feel heavy and have a rounded bulb. tore the squash in a cool, dry place and it can last up to six months. I buy them in bulk in the fall and they last through winter.
Important to enjoying this squash is knowing how to cut and peel it. First, cut the ends off. This will help to stabilize the squash for peeling. Hold the squash vertical and peel from the top (smaller end) down towards the bulb using a serrated peeler. If this is difficult, cooking the squash for a couple of minutes first will make the peeling easier. Once the squash has been peeled, cut it down lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and membranes. Cut into cubes by first cutting in half. Cut the halves into strips and the strips into cubes.
How to cook:
-Bake whole with skin: Bake at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes or until tender.
-Bake in halves, with skin: Cut in half lengthwise, coat with a little olive oil, and bake with skin side down. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until tender.
-Roast in the oven with other autumn vegetables such as pumpkin, shallots, onions, garlic, parsnips, beets, carrots, or rutabaga: Brush with oil and herbs. Bake at 350 degrees, approximately one hour or until soft and golden on the edges.
-In a soup: Butternut squash is a great addition to minestrone soup
-As a soup: Try my recipe for Butternut Squash Soup.
-Toss peeled and cubed squash into your favorite casserole.
How to flavor:
Great flavored with olive oil and fresh herbs, such as thyme or sage. Or, for a kid-friendly favorite, try dipping in maple syrup.
Squash is high in beta carotene, Vitamin A, C, potassium and magnesium. Butternut squash is great for diabetics and those with digestive problems. It also improves energy and circulation.