Roasted Butternut Squash

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Roasted Butternut Squash…what can I say.  What a great vegetable, just by itself.  You can make it into soup, you can add it pasta, or you can add into a salad.  And…you can roast it!  It’s so easy.  Picking a good one is easy too!  I recently visited a farm in NC, where the farmer explained to me how to pick a good squash.  You need to pick the one with the fattest neck.  Easy as that.  Since the seeds are at the base, there isn’t mush flesh down there, so if you want a substantial amount of vegetable to prepare, the one with the fatter neck will be meatier.  The hardest part is peeling it!  To peel a butternut squash, you need a very sharp vegetable peeler.  If your’s has seen better days, invest in a new one; you’ll be glad you did.

To peel a butternut squash you’ll need to wash and dry it.   Using a sharp, large chef’s knife, separate the narrow top part (neck) from the bottom, bulb shaped part–crosswise.  Set each half upright onto the cutting board.  Using the vegetable peeler, slice off the peel from top to bottom.  Do this all the way around, for both pieces. If you feel that a knife would be easier, that’s fine, just be careful to slice the peel away from you for safety reasons! I personally find that a good, sharp vegetable peeler works great and you get less cut marks on it.  Afterwards, check to make sure you’ve gotten all the peel off and gently peel away any little bits that are left.  Then, place the squash back on the board, and now slice the bottom, fatter part (where the seeds are) in half from top to bottom.  Using a grapefruit spoon, if you have one, or another large spoon, scoop out the seeds and the stringy stuff from the inside and discard it.

Now, you’re ready to cube it.  Cut it into the size you prefer.  I like to cut mine into about 1 1/2 to 2″ cubes.  They don’t always turn out the same exact size and shape, but that fine, natural is beautiful!

Also, check out the notes for my Butter Squash Soup recipe where I listed instructions on how to make soup out of roasted butternut squash leftovers!

    Cooking and prepping time: about 1 hour

    Serves: 4-6, depending on size of squash


Ingredients:

  • One large butternut squash (pick one with a wide neck)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, optional (or walnuts, whichever you prefer)
  • 2-3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs, optional
  • 1  tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • grated fresh ginger, about 1/8 tsp
  • salt and pepper

    Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400º.
  2. Brush a roasting pan with olive oil to avoid sticking
  3. Finely chop pecans and set aside
  4. Wash, peel and cube the butternut squash, about 1 1/2-2″ sized cubes and place the cubes in a large bowl
  5. Add 1 tbsp olive oil
  6. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper, add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and garlic powder (if you have fresh ginger you can also grate some over the top).
  7. Toss to coat the cubes with the oil and spices
  8. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and panko bread crumbs and toss one more time.  Add a tiny bit more olive oil if you feel it’s dry and then re-toss.
  9. Spread it out evenly on the roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, then give it a stir with a wooden spoon and roast for 15 more minutes, checking every 5-7 minutes or so.  It’s done when you can easily poke a fork through it, but it doesn’t fall apart and the edges are browned. Watch it so it doesn’t burn.  Note: I used a convection oven set to 400º on “convection roast” and mine is ready in 30 minutes total.  All ovens vary, so test it out to see what works best for you.  You don’t want it to be too mushy or too hard.


Note:  I sometimes include brussel sprouts or broccoli to my roasted butternut squash to make a more colorful meal.

For brussel sprouts:  Wash and set them out on a couple of paper towels to dry for a few minutes, then cut off the end that has the stem and then cut them in half.  I toss them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper in the same bowl I tossed the butternut squash in and when it’s time to stir the squash, 15 minutes into roasting, I add the brussel sprouts on top and mix them in slightly.  This might add a few minutes roasting time.  When you see the brussel sprouts are browned on the edges, they should be tender.  Do the same if adding broccoli.

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