When you’re trying to eat seasonally you start to wonder what you’re going to be eating for veggies in the winter. I do have mache and spinach still growing in the garden for greens, as well as canned green beans, beets, and zucchini pickles in the pantry. All of these are wonderful, but one of the best winter vegetables is butternut squash. They’re super easy to store, mine are just sitting on top of the side table in my dining room. They will last for up to 6 months if stored properly. Now that’s amazing, no canning, freezing or preparing, just pile in a corner and check them every week or so, could it get any easier than that?
There’s just something about roasted squash that is warm and cozy. They’re also super healthy. Butternut squash is an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and A, and a good source of calcium.
So how do you go about eating a butternut squash? They can be cooked in a variety of ways: baked, pureed (like mashed potatoes), in muffins, in pies, in ravioli or lasagna, and in soups. We prefer ours in soup or roasted, although butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter occasionally graces our winter table. You can also eat the seeds if you’d like. I sometimes roast them in the oven, but most of the time I save them and throw them out by the bird feeder for the birds.
Most of the butternut squashes that grew in my garden this summer were small ones, but I did have a volunteer that grow out of my compost pile that produced a 3 pound squash. I bought 6-7 at the farmer’s market along with a few pumpkins and other kinds of squash.
Here’s my favorite Butternut Squash recipe.
Butternut Squash and Chipotle Soup
from Fresh & Light (Williams-Sonoma)
1 butternut squash, 2.5 lbs
1 tablespoon of butter
2 slices of coarse country bread, each about 1/2 inch thick cut into 1/2 inch cubes (for croutons)
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1/2 yellow onion chopped
2 small chipotle peppers (I’d start with 1 without seeds and then taste) I use canned ones
3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
salt to taste
fresh sage leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Using spoon, scrape out the seeds and any fibers and discard. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake until just tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, warm the butter. Add the bread and dried sage and saute, stirring often, until the bread cubes are browned on all side, about 4 minutes. Using a spoon, transfer croutons to a plate and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash chiles, and broth. Simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the squash is very soft, about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth (or with immersion blender), be very carefully blending hot soup as it has a tendency to explode the top off the blender. It’s best to start with bursts of power then to full blend. Its also wise to keep a kitchen towel draped over the blender. I have found an immersion blender to be indispensable since we make many pureed soups.
Return soup to the pan and reheat gently. If desired add some whole milk and butter. Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. Ladle into warmed bowls. Divide the croutons among the servings and garnish with sage leaves. Serve hot.
What’s you’re favorite way to eat butternut squash?