A Beginner’s Guide to Butternut Squash

Butternut squash

I love butternut squash due to its versatility in cooking and that beautiful orange flesh color. Butternut squash is a type of winter squash. It is hearty enough to pass as a starch substitute, while also doubling as a vegetable. It is PACKED with vitamin A due to its high content of beta and alpha-carotene. It is also a great source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and magnesium.

  • Double bonus: It has little to no salt, fat, or cholesterol (what’s not to love?!).
  • Triple bonus: Winter squashes are a cancer-fighting food! That beta carotene is a carotenoid aka a fancy word for an antioxidant, which helps reduce inflammation, support immune function, and keep the cells in your body functioning properly.

How to pick:

  • Choose a squash that is heavier in weight when comparing squashes.
  • Take a look at the rind. If it is starting to turn dark brown or black, look for a different squash. The rind should not show any signs of rotting.

Storing:

  • Store in a dry, dark place for up to a month. Once cut, refrigerate in a sealed bag or container for up to a week.

Cutting:

butternut-squash-cutting

  • Woof. This can be a daunting task. But hey. We NEED that beta-carotene so let’s do this.
    • First, start by making a couple slits in the outside skin of the squash and microwave for 1-3 minutes to soften the skin.
    • Next, take your chef’s knife and cut off the fattest end of the squash.
    • Stand your squash up on the cutting board and peel the skin off length-wise with a sturdy vegetable peeler.
    • Here is where it can get tricky. Key to remember: keep whatever you are cutting stable and not wobbly for your safety. Cut length-wise down the middle of the squash.
    • Scoop out the seeds from the inside of the squash. From here, chop the squash as desired.

Serving Size: 1/2 cup cooked

Can’t find the butternut squash at the store? Look for its cousin squashes: acorn, butternut, spaghetti and hubbard.

5 Top Ways to Enjoy Butternut Squash

  1. Make a butternut squash soup! See my yummy recipe below.
  2. Opt for an easy one-pot dish by roasting cubed butternut squash with herbed chicken breasts and parmesan asparagus for an easy weeknight dish.
  3. Puree roasted butternut squash and add to your favorite pasta with a little cheddar cheese for a reduced fat spin on mac’n’cheese.
  4. Slice butternut squash length-wise into wedges, drizzle with sea salt and EVOO, and roast for low-carb french fries.
  5. Steam cubed butternut squash with chickpeas, curry powder, red curry paste, and coconut milk and serve over white or brown rice for a quick, vegetarian dish.

 

Butternut Squash, Carrot, and Ginger Soup

butternut-squash-soup

Servings: 6 (1 1/2 cups per serving)

Prep time: 20 mins, Cook time: 1 hr, Total time: 1 hr 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups carrots (I used baby carrots because that’s what I had on hand. If using whole carrots, peel, clean, and slice in half)
  • 1 Butternut squash, sliced in half length-wise
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cut your squash in half length-wise and remove seeds and strings. Place face down on greased cookie sheet. Depending on what type of carrots you decide to use, peel, clean, and slice in half. Toss carrots with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1/8 tsp cumin. Place carrots in one layer on the rest of your cookie sheet next to the squash. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
  2. Slice and wash the leek. Chop garlic and ginger. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a deep-sided large pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic, ginger, and leek for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth to the pot and simmer.
  3. Once a knife easily pierces the outside skin of the squash, remove from oven. Transfer small batches of squash and carrots to food processor. With each batch, add small amounts of soy milk to help puree. Add each batch to large pot. Once all the squash and carrots are pureed with the soy milk and added to the rest of the soup, add the nutmeg and rest of the cumin.
  4. Bring soup to medium heat until small bubbles form on the soup surface. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

-EAW

 

 

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