Butternut Squash is the quintessential autumn vegetable. It’s sweet and creamy when roasted, with beautiful yellow-orange flesh. High in vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and folate, it is also one of the healthiest foods you can eat during the cold fall and winter months. It has anti-cancer properties and is supportive of men’s and general lung health. It’s a powerhouse of phytonutrients.
Butternut squash may look a little daunting to prepare, but it’s a lot easier if you have a y-peeler, like so:
I first remove the stalk and bottom (where the root is) and then I like to chop the squash in two, dividing it into the round bulb and the cylindrical part. Next, using a y-peeler, peel each half, making sure you get through the tough outer peel and past the lighter coloured flesh on the very outside of the squash. Much like a rutabaga, this is really fibrous and not very tasty. Next, scoop out the seeds. You can clean and toast these, which makes a tasty snack. I usually then chop the squash into smaller cubes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast. You can add some woody herbs, like rosemary, or just leave it as it is. Some people just half the squash, scoop out the guck and seeds and roast it with the skins on, then when tender, scoop the flesh out. This is good if you are making a smooth puree, but I like to optimize the surface area for browning by dicing the squash. This makes it sweeter.
You can eat it like that, or toss it into a pasta or risotto dish. It’s very tasty with some bacon, a little sage and pasta. As well, you can make a warm salad with the squash. It’s also GREAT for soups. It purees beautifully. I just sweat a little onion, carrot and garlic, throw in the roasted squash, add some chicken stock and puree with my little immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, do yourself a favour and get one. It is, easily, one of my most-used kitchen tools. Anyway, back to the soup, you can throw in a little cream for richness and serve with a little goat’s cheese and herb croute. It is absolutely delicious. A sprinkle of nutmeg never hurt anyone, either. In fact, nutmeg is a perfect compliment for the sweet squash.
Because it purees so beautifully, it is also great for making your own baby food. Just steam it until tender and puree with a little water to loosen it. Babies love the sweet flavour, as well. And because of the sweetness, I’ve also seen it replace pumpkin in some fancy desserts. I haven’t personally tried that myself as of yet, but it’s on my list…
Squash keeps for a pretty long time, as long as it’s in a cool, dark, dry place. And they’re pretty cheap. Go get some this autumn and give it a try! You’ll be suprised at how much you like it!