I had my very first encounter with butternut squash, yesterday. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to squash. Maybe it has something to do with the way the name sounds — squash. Just doesn’t bring delicious pictures to mind when you say it, does it? Squ-aaaaaa-sh. lol Anyway, I’ve used zucchini quite a bit, and I love spaghetti squash, though most of the rest of my family won’t touch it. I wanted to try something different and in a healthier vein, so as I was walking down the produce aisle, this silly butternut squash started calling to me. Next thing I know, its in my cart and I’m buying a butternut squash. Keep in mind until now, I have never tasted one, much less cooked one. I figured if nothing else, it’s a pretty sort of fallish, gourdish kind of thing and I will work it into an arrangement. — lol
So, the squash and I made it home safely, put the rest of the groceries away and then it just sat there on the counter, staring at me. Now what? I decided to go in the other room where it couldn’t see me. Luckily, my computer was in there, so I was able to do a little research.
You all know in times of recipe trouble I turn first to Recipezaar, and yesterday was no exception. I got a pretty good feel for how to cook butternut squash while I was there, but I knew I was going to be serving it with cod and I wanted something a little more savory. The recipes I found all seemed to incorporate sugar, more like sweet potato dishes. I decided to wing it. Always a good technique for serving a brand new dish, right?
Here’s what I came up with. It was delicious, by the way.
Yield: 6 servings
- one butternut squash
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 c. melted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
I cut the squash in half and scooped out the seeds. (It has the most lovely golden-orange color inside.) Next I had to peel it. I started out trying to remove the peel like any normal person would, with a knife. But the curvaceous nature of a butternut squash, coupled with the thickness of the shell make it a little difficult to peel without just sort of hacking off chunks of it. Didn’t seem like the best course of action. I tried peeling towards me and then even away from me like when I use …
Lightbulb! I can use a vegetable peeler! I think. After a little experimenting, I managed to peel the second half of the squash much more neatly with the vegetable peeler. So, heretoforward, I proclaim that trusty instrument as the tool of choice for butternut squash peeling.
I sliced the two peeled halves into about 1/2 inch strips and then cubed those. I put all the pieces into my round baking dish and got together some items to season it.
I melted the 1/4 c. butter in the microwave and then added the vanilla, nutmeg, salt and pepper. After stirring them all together, I poured the mixture over my cubed butternut squash and tossed it to make sure all the pieces were coated. Then I covered the dish and baked it for 1 hour in a 350º oven.
I will definitely be making this again. Everyone in the household ate it and though in David’s opinion, “nothing can have too much sugar”, not adding sugar worked out beautifully. The squash has a sort of natural sweetness and the hint of nutmeg rounded out this yummy side dish.
I served it with cod and steamed broccoli. It was a healthy, delicious meal that looked beautiful and full of color on the plate.
So, don’t be afraid to try something new. If a piece of produce is shouting at you from across the aisle, put it in one of those plastic produce bags, so no one else hears, and then bring it home. Surprise yourself and your family with a tasty new dish from your own happy test kitchen! You’ll do great!