How to Roast Butternut Squash

Friday, December 18, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash

Nothing says winter more than squash. And, a roasted creamy butternut squash is a cold weather favorite at our house!

And, butternuts are loaded vitamins and nutrients, too!

We usually have squash as a side dish to roasted lamb or pork, but sometimes we make it a light supper all by itself. There’s nothing like a piping hot squash drenched in butter, spices and maple syrup. Yummy!

We usually grow our own and store them, but in season they can be found at farmer’s markets or grocery stores very inexpensively. Find a cool dark place in your pantry or cellar and buy baskets of them to store so you can have this sweet and tasty treat all winter long.

For baking, I like to choose heavy, thick necked squash rather than those with long skinny necks. This will give you more “meat” and a nice hollow seed cavity for the goodies.

To prepare your squash:

Cut in half long-ways, leaving the stem and bloom ends intact. You don’t want all the sweetness spilling out. Now, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. I like to use a melon baller because it has a lightly sharp edge that slices through the flesh easily. I don’t peel my squash because I don’t want the flesh to get hard and crusty during cooking.

If your squash came from the farmers market you can save the seeds to plant your own crop, or roast them like pumpkin seeds.

Score the fleshy neck part of the squash in a diamond patter so the butter, maple syrup and spices can sink in.

Place the squash, skin side down, in a baking dish. Try to nestle them together so they keep each other from tipping over.

Now, for the good part.

Place about one tablespoon of butter in the seed cavity of each side, followed by a tablespoon of maple syrup. If you prefer you can use brown sugar instead of the maple syrup. Then sprinkle the whole thing with pumpkin pie spice. The amount is up to you.

Pop it into the over and bake at 400-degrees for about an hour. Spoon the melted buttery sweet syrup over the neck a few times and let it ooze into the scoring. At one hour, insert a knife to make sure it is baked all the way through. If it is, the knife will slide through the fleshy part easily. If there’s any resistance continue baking and checking until it is done.

To bake a more savory, rather than sweet, squash drizzle it with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and bake as above. Herbs like savory, sage, tarragon or thyme will also compliment a savory version of the baked butternut squash.

If you can’t wait a whole hour for your squash to bake, peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler, cut into cubes and then toss in the ingredients for the sweet or savory version.

There’s a few ways you can serve your squash. One is to serve it whole so the flesh and syrup can be scooped out together with each yummy mouthful. Or, you can scoop out all the flesh and mash it, like mashed potatoes, or puree it if you like a smoother consistency.

But, no matter what your favorite turns out to be you’ll be loving your squash all winter long.

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