The arrival of fall brings with it so many pleasures–beautiful foliage, football, the start of the holiday season and many more. One of the things I most look forward to with the arrival of fall is the winter squash season, and my favorite winter squash is the butternut squash. These somewhat pear-shaped squash have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor similar to a pumpkin. As a matter of fact, when I asked a local Amish farmer which of the pumpkins he grew would be the best for a pie, he took me to the butternut squash and said this is what we use for pies. Not only do butternut squash taste delicious, but they are a good source of vitamin A including beta carotene, fiber, potassium and magnesium. Their ability to be used in sweet and savory recipes makes them a highly versatile vegetable.
These squash are grown in the summer, but harvested in the fall, so right now is the height of butternut squash season. They are readily available in farmers’ markets and grocery stores and because they are in season they are reasonably priced and full of flavor. Butternut, and most winter squash, store well if you have the right place. Stored in a cool, dark place, butternut squash can last for 2-3 months, maybe longer depending on your conditions. This potential for long term storage allows you to buy several of them when they are at their cheapest.
Not everyone is familiar with butternut squash. I know I wasn’t until a few years ago. Most recipes begin with roasting the squash, but it can also be sautéed and cooked in a soup. Here are some recipes to try. And while I enjoy butternut squash in dishes, sometimes my favorite way to eat it is to just roast peeled, cubed butternut squash tossed in olive oil (or any vegetable oil) with a little salt and pepper.
Winter Squash Puree
from Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
- 1 Tbs. butter, plus more for the pan
- 1 butternut squash (or any other winter squash except spaghetti squash)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- yogurt or sour cream
- brown sugar and cinnamon
- finely chopped chiles
- curry powder
- parmesan, cheddar or goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking sheet. Slice the squash in half using a big, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and fibers. Set the halves facedown on the sheet. Bake in the oven until a knife poked into the squash goes through easily, 30-40 minutes. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scoop the squash from the skin and place it in a large bowl with the garlic, the butter from the pan and any other additions. Mash and stir until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
This recipe makes a great side dish. I would also use it with goat cheese as a spread on toast in the morning!
Baked Garlicky Butternut Squash
from Main Course Vegetarian Pleasures
- 1 large (3 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
- 1/3 cup olive or other vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs. minced parsley
- salt to taste
- liberal seasoning of black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss squash, oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Spoon vegetable into a shallow baking dish, making sure the squash is in a single layer. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender, but not mushy.
Again I have made the above recipe using just oil, salt and pepper!
Butternut Squash & Black Bean Tacos
recipe courtesy of Chester County Food Bank
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
- 2 cans of black beans, drained, rinsed and warmed.
- 3 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs. of chili powder or other spices (maybe cumin)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8-10 corn or flour tortillas
- 1 cup sour cream or cheese (optional)
- salsa or hot pepper, diced (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pile squash on a baking dish, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with chili powder or other spices and 1 tsp. salt. Toss to coat the squash evenly. Spread the squash in a single layer on the pan and roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. The squash should be very soft and browned around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside. To make the tacos: fill the tortillas with the squash and beans. Top with the optional ingredients, if desired, and serve right away. Any leftover taco filling can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Instead of tacos, you could put the filling into a burrito, make a quesadilla or mix it with crunched up tortilla chips to make a taco salad. You could use pinto beans instead of black beans and cooking dry beans is a cheaper option.
I have so many more recipes for butternut squash. I could almost eat a butternut squash every week for most of the season and not repeat a recipe. I hope these the recipes above inspire you to cook a butternut squash, especially if you have never tried one! I’m off to cook one now to use in Butternut Squash Lasagna.