Butternut squash is a member of the Cucurbita moschata species of squash, which also includes pumpkin. The outside peel isn’t edible, but the orange “flesh” of the squash is a delicious food. It’s almost sweet, especially when you roast it in the oven.
How to cook butternut squash
Cooking butternut squash usually starts with peeling it, which is often the hardest part… It takes a good (relatively big) knife and a strong arm! You can microwave the squash for a few minutes to make it a little easier.
To peel it, cut both ends off and then cut it in half where the narrow part meets the thicker part.
After you do this, cut it in half in the other direction and then scoop out the seeds. The seeds, when roasted, are a lot like “pepitas” made from pumpkin seeds and make a great snack.
Chop the squash into cubes – usually about a half inch to an inch wide.
Roasting in the oven. You can roast (bake) the squash with or without peeling it. For specific details, here’s a great site with photos and instructions. To summarize, if you don’t peel the squash, cut it in half from the stem to the base, scoop out the seeds, put a little oil on the flesh and place it flesh side down on a pan or cookie sheet. Bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If you cube the squash first, toss the cubes in a little oil and bake them at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Boiling on the stove top. Boil cubes of butternut squash for 10-15 minutes on the stove top.
Steam-bake in the oven Cut the squash like you would to roast it whole (with the peel left on). Put the flesh side down in a baking dish and add ½ inch of water. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Cooking in the microwave. Put the cubes of squash in a microwave safe bowl and add some water (usually around ½ a cup or so). Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 5-10 minutes.
Simple ways to eat butternut squash.
Simple roasted butternut squash is delicious. You can roast the squash with oil, salt and pepper – which is awesome, or you can add a little garlic to the oil for a more flavor.
Take cooked cubes (boiled, microwaved or roasted) and mash them like mashed potatoes.
Mix them (smashed or whole) with rice or other grains.
Easy butternut squash recipes
There are a lot of wonderful recipes for butternut squash soup, which is one of the best winter foods ever. Feel free to google other recipes, but here is a fairly easy to make version from FoonNetworkTV. You can use roasted or microwaved butternut squash for any butternut squash soup recipe.
Slow cooker butternut squash and lentil stew. If you aren’t a vegetarian, you might want to use chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth.
If you mash up the butternut squash it becomes a creamy, wonderful spaghetti sauce! Here’s a recipe to try… if you can’t find the sage leaves, don’t worry. It will still be wonderful!
How about a butternut squash, baby kale and chicken salad ? This is one of several healthy recipes using butternut squash from Cooking Light.
Try these butternut squash tacos!
Trivia about butternut squash
- The species of squash that is now the butternut squash started in southern Mexico over 10,000 years ago. It was there before the arrival of human beings!
- The English word “squash” was derived by the first English settlers from the Narrangansett word askutasquash (a green thing eaten raw)
- Almost 50 billion pounds of squash are produced each year in the world.
- One half cup of cooked butternut squash has 45 calories
- Butternut squash is very high in Vitamin A, the B vitamins, anti-oxidants and many other nutrients
- Butternut squash is technically a fruit, not a vegetable
- It got the name butternut because the color of the skin is about the same as the color of cloth dyed with butternuts (an oily walnut)