How to Prepare and Cook Butternut Squash
Butternut squash has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin, which is from the same family. The riper it is the sweeter it is. They have yellow / beige skin, lovely orange flesh and seeds in the bulbous part at the bottom.
Butternut squash are a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, fibre, and manganese. They also contain antioxidants which can help prevent cancer, particularly colon cancer. Butternut squash can be ssubstituted for pumpkin in recipes, and vica versa.
When to buy:
Butternut squash are in season September to January, although they are available in supermarkets all year round.
How to choose:
Don’t buy a butternut squash much bigger than 1 kg as it will have a woody flavour. Also, make sure there are no green lines on the skin. A ripe squash will sound hollow when slapped.
How to store:
Store butternut squash in a cool dark place but not in the fridge as this can make them rot. You can freeze cooked butternut squash for up to one month.
How to prepare:
Peeling and de-seeding butternut squash can be a bit awkward, but there are ways around this. You can actually eat the skin so you can leave it on if you prefer, or just remove it when it’s cooked, which is easier. If you do want to peel your butternut squash before cooking, just use a good vegetable peeler.
How to cook:
- Roast: Peel with a vegetable peeler (or leave the skin on if you like as you can eat it), dice into cubes and remove seeds. Roast the cubes with olive oil and herbs for 20 - 30 minutes at 180 C / gas 4. Or, cut into quarters lengthways with the skin on, remove seeds and roast for 45 – 50 minutes at 180 C / gas 4.
- Steam: Cube as above and steam for around 15 minutes. This is better than boiling as the nutrients will stay in the flesh.
- Boil: Cube as above and boil for 10 minutes or until tender. If you boil butternut squash in stock you can then blend it to make soup.
- Grill: Slice, season with olive oil and herbs or sprinkle with cinnamon and grill. This works really well on a BBQ.
- Bake: Wrap the entire butternut squash with foil and bake for 1 ½ hours at 180 C / gas 4. Saves peeling and de-seeding. When cooked, scoop out the seeds and use the flesh as you need.
- Seeds: You can eat the seeds! They are great sprinkled onto of soups! Wash them and dry them well. Pour evenly onto a roasting dish and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Roast for 20 minutes at 180 C / gas 4 giving them a good shake a couple of times during cooking.
Butternut Squash Recipe Ideas:
- Butternut squash risotto – classic recipe with yummy parmesan. Add some crispy bacon for a variation.
- Butternut squash soup– with crème fraiche to take the edge off the sweetness and make it creamy.
- Butternut squash & feta salad – sweet roasted cubes of squash with salty feta and salad leaves. Delicious.
- Butternut squash curry – the sweetness of the butternut squash works well with a lovely spicy curry sauce.
- Grilled butternut squash – slide the squash, sprinkle with cinnamon and a little oil before grilling. Great side dish to roast chicken.
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