What We’re Cooking With Now: Butternut Squash
Looking for adventure in the kitchen? Our monthly What We're Cooking with Now post features a fresh produce ingredient, explains how to find the market's finest, and includes a recipe to try at home.
Why: Butternut squash is one of the most common varieties of winter squash. It also offers a good supply of vitamin A, potassium, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. One cup of cubed butternut squash contains 582mg of potassium, more than the amount in one banana. Also, as in most orange fruits and vegetables, it contains a moderate amount of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Its adaptable flavor can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and pairs well with a diverse blend of spices.
Shopping Tip: Butternut squash is also known colloquially as "winter squash." Its tough skin protects and preserves the squash for long periods without refrigeration, allowing it to be eaten in the winter when harvested in the fall. Choose a butternut squash that is large and thick, with a rounded bottom and thick neck. The stem section should be firm and woody, not soft. The color of fresh butternut squash should be uniform and pale, without spots or discoloration.
Preparation: Using a sharp knife, cut the stem section from the top, then cut at the base of the neck before the squash starts to get wider at the bottom. Be careful: the skin is very tough, and it is easy to cut yourself if not careful. Carefully remove the skin from the neck. Cut the bottom ¼" off of the squash, and carefully remove the skin from the rounded section with a knife, using long cuts from top to bottom as if you were taking the rind off a melon. Cut the rounded section in half and scoop out the seeds. Once the seeds are removed, dice all of the flesh from both the neck and the bottom into cubes. The cubes can then be roasted with a small amount of oil, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you would like. Cinnamon, cumin, curry and smoked paprika are all spices that work very well.
Recipe: Vegan Curried Butternut Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces
1 stalk of celery
1 small white onion
1 large carrot
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
32 oz. low sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup curry powder
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel, seed and dice the squash into chunks. Cut the rest of the vegetables into small pieces, keeping each separate. In a large sauce pot, sauté the onions until soft, then add the carrots and celery and sauté until the celery is soft. Add the squash and sauté for 2 minutes. Add just enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and simmer while covered with a lid until all vegetables are very tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and broth out of the pot into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot. Add the almond milk and bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add vegetable stock until you have reached your desired consistency. Finally, add the curry powder, salt, and pepper, and stir until the curry dissolves.