3 Easy Ways to Use Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash is an amazingly versatile vegetable to have on hand, and it will store for months. It's basically a natural, field-grown, shelf stable package of vitamins and minerals, particularly high in Beta Carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient, and adequate consumption of Beta Carotene may preserve cognitive function and lung health as you age. It's what gives butternut squash its orange color.
We grow about 100 lbs of butternut in our home garden for ourselves, and keep them for 3-6 months after harvest on hand in our kitchen for when we need a quick roasted or mashed veggie for dinner. I consider Butternut Squash a 100% natural "instant meal" and I make sure always to have them on hand.
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Use #1: Roast It
This is the preferred method in my house. Roasting butternut could not be simpler. You really need to try this to discover how easy it is. Peel the squash and remove the seeds (I find that having a serrated peeler makes peeling almost any veggie much easier than a standard peeler, just FYI!) Cut the squash into roughly 1 inch cubes. Toss the cubes in a bowl with just enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Go easy on the olive oil - you don't want them to be dripping, just evenly coated. Add a healthy pinch of salt (I always prefer finely ground Celtic sea salt, which is fine enough to distribute itself evenly, and a far superior salt to conventional table salt), and toss the cubes to distribute evenly. I always add a large three-finger pinch of dried Italian herbs or herbes de provence and toss those in too.
Spread the decorated cubes evenly on a single layer cookie sheet, and roast in the oven at 400° for about 30 minutes. It helps to turn them once halfway through the process for even cooking. Remove once the squash can be easily pierced with a fork, and is nicely browned on the bottom. Add more salt after roasting if they taste too bland.
Use #2: Steam and Mash
Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut into large chunks and place inside a steamer. Alternatively, you can boil the squash, drain the water and mash it, but I prefer steaming because you lose less squash in the cooking water. Once the squash is completely soft and easily mashed with a fork, drain the water and mash it in a bowl with a few generous pats of butter, salt to taste, and one small clove of crushed garlic. Or, if you are looking for something sweet instead of savory, add butter and cinnamon with just a tiny bit of salt, and leave out the garlic. A drizzle of honey will make it even sweeter!
Use #3: Soup
Because it disintegrates so easily when boiled, butternut squash is perfect for making a hearty pureed soup.
Essential Ingredients:1 large onion
1 butternut squash
3 garlic cloves
3-4 cups water or broth
Butter or other cooking oil
Italian herbs or herbes do provence
A few drops of lemon juice
Peel and chop the onion, sauté in a small amount of butter or cooking oil. 5 to 10 minutes will do the trick, but cooking them down longer will result in a sweeter, more caramelized taste in the soup. While the onions are cooking, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut into cubes. Set the cubes aside and finish cooking the onions. When the onions are cooked to your satisfaction, crush the garlic cloves into the pan and saute one more minute.
Add the water or broth. You may use veggie broth or chicken broth, but water also does the trick if you don't have either. Add the butternut squash cubes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer approximately 20 minutes until the butternut squash is completely tender.
Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender, or transfer the soup to a blender (be careful, it's hot!). Add salt to taste, and optional pepper. A few optional drops of lemon juice (don't use too much!) will give the soup greater depth of flavor. Adding the optional cream will give a rich flavor to the soup. The optional herbs are especially helpful if using water instead of broth. If you want to pep the soup up a little bit, crushing another clove of garlic is an easy way to do that. Finally, chopped parsley or another fresh herb of your choice (cilantro, green onions, chives) makes a beautiful and delicious garnish served on top of the soup after you ladle it into bowls.
If you want to add some texture and protein, toss in a cup or two of fully cooked white navy beans after pureeing the soup. They go very nicely with the pureed squash.
Enjoy! I think no kitchen should be without a small stock of butternut squashes in the pantry, ready to whip out as a veggie accompaniment to almost any meal!
If you live within our delivery zone and would like to purchase the majority of the ingredients for the soup recipe above straight from local farms, click here to pre-load them in your shopping cart. (works only in browser, not in our mobile app)
- Max Becher