The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

October 18, 2012

Amanda Stone: Butternut squash plays role of star

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Cooler weather brings us the beginning of the winter squash harvest. In my opinion, butternut squash is the star of the show.

It’s round on the bottom, smaller at the top, with skin a uniform beige color. That could double as a description of myself. Maybe that’s why I have taken such a liking to it. No, the real reason I love butternut squash is for its versatility. I love produce that can steal the show as a sweet dish, while moonlighting as savory.

One can treat this beautifully proportioned piece of produce kind of like a sweet potato. Although its bright orange flesh is the same hue, its texture is what makes it able to be used in an array of dishes. I love it roasted and pureed with fresh ginger in soup. Sweeten roasted butternut squash with brown sugar and cinnamon like you would a sweet potato dish. Or, live on the edge and sprinkle it with curry and a dash of salt for a savory side dish.

Preparing a butternut squash can be daunting because of its seemingly rock hard shell. It’s actually fairly thin and can be peeled with a good, sturdy vegetable peeler. Cut off the top and bottom and steady the squash on your cutting board. Make sure to peel away the skin until you see orange flesh. I only go through the trouble of peeling butternut squash if I want to cube it for roasting and tossing on a salad. Usually I just slice it in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and place it cut side down on a pan. Roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let it cool enough to hold it and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. The shell goes in the compost. Although this is the easiest way to obtain the sweet orange flesh, you’re left with a bowl of mush. That’s OK with me, because I like to mix the mush into soups, breads and everything else for a vitamin packed punch. But if you desire firm little squash cubes, then peel away. Toss the cubes with salt and olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

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