The Real Star of Fall: Butternut Squash
Between jack-o’-lanterns on Halloween, fall decorations and Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie, pumpkins are thought to be the star of all things fall. But move over pumpkin, there’s a new squash in town: butternut! Butternut squash is a hard winter squash like pumpkins, but to me, it’s much tastier.
I’ll let you in on a secret: butternut squash is not only delicious, it is nutrient dense. It’s full of vitamin C and vitamin A and its characteristic yellow-orange flesh highlights that fact.
In the 1940s a Massachusetts farmer created the first butternut squash by crossing two different types of squash. He did this because he believed other squash varieties were too large for a single family to eat or had too rough of a texture to be enjoyable. This farmer is said to have given the butternut squash its name due to it being “smooth like butter, sweet as a nut.” Now butternut squash is a staple in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and in the U.S.
A Versatile Vegetable
Winter squash, which include kabocha, acorn, spaghetti, Hubbard, pumpkin, along with butternut, are harvested in the U.S. between mid-July and the end of August. Because of their hard exterior, they can be stored for extended periods to last through the winter.
There are many dishes you can make with butternut squash. During our Kitchen Garden Cooking School Harvest Series in September, we prepared three of TAFB’s favorites.
Roasting is a simple, tasty way of cooking butternut squash. By changing the seasonings you use, the same vegetable can go from a sweet dessert with cinnamon and nutmeg to a savory side dish with Parmesan cheese, thyme, rosemary and garlic.
There are a few tips to cooking hard squashes. The most important tip is preparing the squash to roast by piercing the skin with a knife and microwaving before attempting to cut the squash in half. Also, try adding similar spices to the seeds you remove from the squash before cooking and roasting those separately.
Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 butternut squash
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash squash and pierce skin several times with a sharp knife.
3. Place squash in microwave and heat for 1 1/2 minutes on high to soften the squash.
4. Cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds and loose fibers in the center.
5. Place the squash on an ungreased baking pan covered in foil, cut side facing up.
6. Pour 1/4 cup of orange juice into each half of the squash and spread it around evenly.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.
8. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg and serve.
By Elise Stewart
Nutrition Educator Intern, Tarrant Area Food Bank