By Jenn Fillenworth
The cold weather is in full swing and one thing that you see at every farmer’s market and in every grocery store is butternut squash. This vegetable can be intimidating — even to those who have cooked it before. But once you move beyond cutting one open, the go-to move is to add tons of brown sugar to make a sweet butternut squash even sweeter. But there’s really no need. Butternut squash is naturally sweet (thanks to its starch content) and when roasted, the high heat helps to caramelize the natural sugars. Even adding a little cinnamon prior to roasting will help amplify that sweetness. And since butternut squash does have that natural sweetness, pairing it with savory elements like olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs are great ways to build layers of flavor without too much fuss.
Butternut Squash Prep 101
You’ve officially purchased a butternut squash, now what? They can be very intimidating to first time buyers! Here’s what I do.
The easiest way: If you’re just roasting the squash to puree, cut the squash in half lengthwise, this takes a little bit of muscle. Then, scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Next, apply a little olive oil to the interior of the squash and bake flesh side down at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
The second easiest way: If you’re dicing the squash for roasting, I like to cut the long top portion from the bulb at the base. Then, take a vegetable peeler or a paring knife and remove the skin. Next, cut the long top and the base in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds from the bottom half then begin making your cuts lengthwise and widthwise to create diced pieces. So simple!
Pro-tip: You can buy pre-cut butternut squash both fresh and frozen.
Add that Squash to your Favorite Sauces
I am always pureeing cooked butternut squash to use for so many different dishes! I love adding it to some of my favorite sauces. My personal favorite is adding pureed butternut squash right into my macaroni and cheese sauce. This helps reduce the amount of cheese you need in the recipe, which will cut back on saturated fat and increase your vegetable servings!
Fall in Love with a New Favorite Salad
It turns out that roasted fall vegetables are amazing additions to salads. As the seasons change, so should what goes into your salad. This keeps things seasonal and more exciting than your usual salad recipe. Cutting the butternut squash into small pieces then tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper is all you need for flavorful roasted squash.
Recipe to try: Fall Harvest Roasted Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Salad from Half Baked Harvest
Squash Soup is Always a Good Idea
Butternut squash makes the most perfect creamy fall soup of all time — no cream required. Although a splash of grass fed cream or coconut milk only makes a butternut squash soup more decadent. It’s hard to find a soup out there that is easier to make or that tastes so good with minimal ingredients — so keep roasted squash on hand so you can whip up a quick weeknight soup if you’re in a dinner bind.