Fall is the season of orange superfoods, like pumpkin, acorn squash, and – my favorite – butternut squash. A member of the gourd family, this fall vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s chock full of fiber and contains lots of great vitamins and minerals, including beta carotene, folic acid, magnesium, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Just as important, it is incredibly flavorful, versatile, and easy to prepare. Read on for five quick and easy ways to prepare butternut squash that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters!
- Simply Steamed. This is the quickest, simplest way to prepare butternut squash, and it retains the most nutritional value when prepared this way. Cut a large butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Chop into large chunks (3-4 inches or so) to help them steam faster. Place in a steamer – you can use the metal insert that fits into a pot, or an actual steamer. Steam for approximately 20 minutes until a fork inserted in the thickest section of the squash penetrates it easily. Enjoy with salt and pepper, or indulge and add a little vegan buttery spread. And a side note: a lot of people toss the skin. Not me. As I buy organic squash, and I eat the skin – it contains a lot of the nutrients of the squash! (Also, to keep food waste to a minimum, you can roast the seeds for a nice snack!)
- Simply Roasted. Cut a large butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub the halves with coconut oil, inside and out. Place cut side down on a metal cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes until tender (the amount of time depends on the thickness of the squash and your oven). Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, sea salt, and black pepper, and enjoy!
- Baked. Take a large butternut squash, remove the seeds, peel it, and cut it in to 1” cubes. Toss with 2 tablespoons of fresh minced parsley 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste, and about a quarter cup of nutritional yeast. Bake in an uncovered, ungreased shallow casserole dish at 400 degrees for 50-55 minutes until squash is tender.
- Mashed. Steam or roast a large butternut squash. Let it cool and remove the peel. Mash the squash with ¼ cup of vegan buttery spread, a splash of plant-based milk, 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon each of cumin, cinnamon, and coriander, a dash of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Soup. Roast butternut squash and a medium-sized yam (poke holes in it with a fork first) per roasting directions above. While the squash and yam are roasting, saute 3 chopped carrots, 1 diced sweet onion, and 4 chopped garlic cloves in a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil in a stock pot over medium heat. When they are softened, add about 6 cups of vegetable stock (more or less, depending on how thick you like your soup) and heat gently until the squash and yam are finished roasting. Remove the peels of the squash and yam and add them plus salt and pepper to taste to the stock pot. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth, simmer until desired consistency and temperature, and enjoy!
And there you have it. These are just a handful of the myriad ways to enjoy one of fall’s finest fresh market finds.