Butternut squash is one of the most popular varieties of winter squash and is very versatile too. It can be cooked in many different ways and used in both savory and sweet dishes.
If you have ever wanted to know what butternut squash taste like, this is the right place. I have tips on how to select and cook butternut squash as well as which foods go best with it.
What is butternut squash?
Butternut squash, which is actually considered a fruit is botanically classified as Cucurbita moschata and is one of the most common varieties of winter squash.
Even though it grows during the summer months and is harvested in the late summer and early autumn, winter squash lasts long, and is commonly served during the cooler months; which is why it's referred to as a winter vegetable.
Other varieties of winter squashes include acorn squash, buttercup squash, sugar pumpkins, and delicata squash. All varieties come in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
What does butternut squash look like?
Butternut squash is a medium-to-large-sized winter squash that is shaped similarly to a bell or a pear.
It has a light tan, smooth, skin, and dense bright orange flesh. The most notable feature of the butternut squash is its bright orange color which brightens up any dish it is used in.
What does butternut squash taste like?
Butternut squash is the sweetest of all winter squash. It tastes almost like a cross between sweet potatoes mixed with pumpkin with a hint of a nutty flavor.
Some people say that the delicious squash flavor of butternut squash is like pumpkin pie without spices.
Depending on how butternut squash is prepared, its nutty, sweet taste and mild flavor can be easily transformed from a savory side dish to a sweet-flavored dessert dish.
Is butternut squash healthy?
Butternut squash is an extremely healthy food! it's low in carries and a great source of fiber, high in potassium, and vitamin C, and full of beta carotene which is converted into vitamins that supports a healthy immune system.
You can read more about the health benefits of butternut squash on healthline.com
Where and how to buy butternut squash
You can find butternut squash in farmer's markets, local markets, or the produce section of your grocery store in the late summer through early winter.
When choosing a butternut squash, look for one that has a solid beige color on the outside without any cuts, soft spots, or punctures.
The squash should feel heavy for its size and the stem should be intact.
How to store butternut squash
Butternut squash has a long shelf life. This squash can last for 3 to 4 months if you store it properly.
The best way to store uncooked butternut squash so that it will last a long time is in a dry, dark pantry that's about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the butternut squash is cooked and ready for storage, it should be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Freezing butternut squash is not recommended.
How to prepare butternut squash for cooking
Unless you are cooking butternut squash whole, here is the easiest way to prepare butternut squash for cooking:
- Cut the squash horizontally just about where the neck and the bulb of the squash meet
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel butternut squash. Hold the squash at the top and peel straight down.
- Once the skin has been peeled off, cut each half of the butternut in half again vertically.
- Scoop out the seeds and cut the squash into cubes.
How to cook butternut squash
There are many different ways to cook and enjoy butternut squash. It can be roasted whole, or, cut in half and roasted, cut into pieces, and roasted, or grilled. It can also be boiled and mashed or turned into soup.
I have found that the best and easiest way to prepare butternut squash is to cut it into 1-inch cubes and place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Drizzle olive oil over the squash cubes and add a little bit of brown sugar or maple syrup. Roast it in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
This method is so simple and it brings out the rich flavor of the delicious butternut squash.
Foods and flavors that Pair Well with Butternut Squash
- Herbs & Spices (allspice, basil, bay leaf, chervil, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme)
- Fruit (apples, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, pears)
- Unsalted butter
- Vegetables (carrots, celery, celery root, spinach, potatoes)
- Cheese (fontina, goat, gruyere, parmesan, pecorino, ricotta
- Chili peppers
- Milk and cream (Diary and coconut)
- Leeks and onions
- Maple syrup and honey
- Meat (pork, pancetta, chicken, shrimp)
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios)
Try these flavor combinations
Butternut Squash + Bacon + Sage
Butternut Squash + Cilantro + Ginger + Lime Juice
Butternut Squash + Sage + Risotto
Butternut Squash + Ricotta Cheese + Nutmeg
Recipes with butternut Squash
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples - A delicious and simple fall side dish.
- Spiralized Beets and Squash Noodle Salad - a tasty veggie noodle salad made with fall vegetables.
- Maple Cinnamon Butternut Squash Salad - Roasted butternut squash is tossed with goat cheese and baby spinach.
- Chicken Djon Sheetpan Dinner with Butternut Squash - A complete one-pan dinner.
- White Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Kale - A meal that's full of fall flavors.
- Butternut Squash Risotto - Butternut squash is pureed to perfection.
- Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce - Delicious and creamy pasta sauce.
- Roasted Fall Vegetable Medely - A mix of fall flavors with butternut squash.
- Pear and Butternut Squash Crisp - A delicious dessert made with butternut squash.
- Cheddar and Butternut Squash Black Bean Chowder A zesty fall-winter soup.
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