Butternut is the most versatile of the winter squash and so I’m beginning my series with this reliable vegetable.
I really want to label the popular butternut as a ‘gateway gourd’ – but, fun fact, gourds are inedible, grown strictly for decorative purposes – and that is the complete opposite of the butternut.
Instead, this winter squash has a mild, pleasant flavour that lends itself well to both sweet and savoury dishes. I’m in the habit of roasting one every week and using it for soups, pasta and the occasional pie.
Cooking Butternut Squash
This squash has a relatively thin skin that can be peeled away using a vegetable peeler. However peeling may not always be necessary…
Roast it Whole
Hands down the easiest way to cook a butternut squash is to roast it whole. This eliminates the struggle to cut it in half or to mess around with peeling. And around here, we prefer simple over struggle.
- Simply place the squash in a 375°F oven and give it about 90 minutes of roasting, depending on the size. (Ideally, you are roasting it alongside another dish.)
- When you can easily pierce the squash with a fork, remove from oven. Slice in half, cool slightly.
- With a spoon, remove the seeds (keep or discard) and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. This is when you can purée the pulp in a food processor for baking if you like.
- If you don’t want to turn on the oven, you can cook a whole butternut squash in a slow cooker. It’s as easy as it sounds. Cook for about 8 hours on Low or 3-4 on High.
Cut it into cubes
Should you require raw cubes of butternut squash, proceed as follows:
- Remove the ends of the squash
- Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler.
- Cut in half crosswise just above the ‘bulge’ bottom.
- Cut both pieces in half lengthwise and remove the seeds from the bottom.
- Cut into cubes and proceed with your recipe.
Popular website The Kitchn has a great visual guide for this method of breaking down a whole, raw butternut.
Roasting Butternut Squash for a Side Dish
If you want to present the roasted squash in halves, cut a crosshatch in the thickest part of the squash and it will cook in the same time as the seed cavity.
This is ideal if you want to stuff the squash cavity or serve it up as a simple side dish. In the photos above, I simply brushed mine in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and added a few sage leaves.
Then, roast the squash at 400°F for about 1 hour. Just before serving, I brush it generously with maple syrup and finish with flaky salt.
Butternut Squash Recipes
The butternut squash is common enough to be found in any grocery store so there’s no excuse not to get cooking.
I love that I can find locally grown butternuts at the farmers markets all winter long. In the middle of February when I split them in half, they are still a deep egg-yolk colour and full of possibility.
Here’s a round-up of recipes featuring the very versatile butternut squash:
- Butternut Squash Gratin (side dish)
- Butternut Squash, Leek & Apple Soup with Sage
- Squash & Parmesan Crustless Mini Quiches (appetizer)
- Butternut Squash Lasagna (vegetarian main)
- Butternut Squash and Wild Rice (vegetarian main or side dish)
- Butternut Squash Whole-Wheat Mac & Cheese (vegetarian main)
- Maple Pumpkin Pie (use butternut squash purée for full flavour)
Share your favourite recipe using butternut squash in the comments!How to Cook Butternut Squash is a post from Simple Bites
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