Produce Spotlight

Produce Spotlight: Butternut Squash

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With the first day of autumn being tomorrow, what better way to celebrate the onset of the fall season than with festive produce. Although pumpkin is a beloved favorite, butternut squash is a great alternative. It has a similar color, texture and flavor. And the good news is that it’s a fall/winter vegetable so it’s just starting its peak. So if you’re sick of seeing pumpkin spice everything, try a lovely winter squash instead.

Prepping and Cooking Butternut Squash

  • These squashes tend to be pretty big, ranging from about one to four pounds. They’re typically shaped like the picture above.
  • Most recipes will call for the squash to be baked or “roasted.” For this, cutting the squash in half length-wise is the best option (or in chunks if the recipe calls for that.)
  • There is a hollow cavity in the larger bottom half of the squash where the seeds and “guts” are and this needs to be removed prior to any cooking. Side note: the seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds and taste exactly the same. Here’s a great recipe for them.
  • As with most things, lining the baking sheet with foil makes clean up much easier.
  • Start with the squash face down on the baking sheet. This will prevent the top from getting too brown right off the bat. During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking you can flip it so the top gets golden.
  • Depending on the size of the squash or how it’s cut, it will probably take 30-45 minutes in a 425 degree oven to cook the squash. It’s done with you can easily poke a fork through the inside.
  • Other cooking methods can include boiling the squash until its tender.

How to Serve Butternut Squash

  • An easy and delicious way to eat roasted butternut squash is straight out of the peel with cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on top. Nothing says fall like cinnamon and nutmeg on an oven-roasted squash.
  • In a soup. This is another common way to use butternut squash. This is a great recipe that blends butternut squash and apples and here is a more classic take on soup with some suggested variations.
  • As a baked fritter. Here’s the recipe I tried. I would suggest thoroughly coating the slices with butter so they brown completely.
  • With pasta. Using the new pasta-cooking skills you learned from yesterday’s post, let’s make this recipe together:

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with Rosemary

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Here is the original recipe that I followed, but I made a few tweaks along the way.

Serves: 4         Prep Time: 10 minutes        Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Fettuccine or Linguine noodles
  • 4 tablespoons butter (about half a stick)
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped. (Original recipe calls for fresh, but I used dried.)
  • 2 cups milk (I omitted the chicken stock all together)
  • Optional: chicken

Instructions:

  1. Roast the butternut squash in the oven for about 30 minutes or until it’s soft enough to mash.
  2. Cook the pasta until its al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, sautee butter, garlic, rosemary and onions until softened. The butter will begin to brown after about 2 minutes.
  4. Once the butter has browned, add the milk and still well until the butter is incorporated.
  5. Scoop out the roasted squash with a spoon and mash it on a plate. Then transfer it into the sauce, stirring well.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mix in the drained pasta until its coated.
  8. Optional: mix in grilled chicken.
  9. Serve and enjoy.
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