I love butternut squash, and it seems that our Grow Appalachia participants are coming to love this nutty flavored, versatile squash as well.
|Chris Hockenberry with one of his many wheelbarrow loads of Butternut!|
I am a huge fan of all things winter squash. I love that winter squash can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration, and the fact that that winter squash can be made sweet or savory depending on the cooking method. There are endless varieties of winter squash available in seed catalogs, but the good ole butternut squash has won my heart.
The vibrant orange color of butternut flesh shows just how vitamin packed this squash is. Butternuts are good for heart health due to their high dietary fiber content, folate levels, and carotenoids. The potassium levels in butternut are great for bone health, and the amount of vitamin B6 found in the fruit helps to support nervous and immune system function. On top of all this, butternuts promote vision health with beta carotene, and contain massive amounts of vitamin C.
|Scooping seeds during the healthy cooking workshop|
If the health benefits aren’t enough, butternut squash is absolutely delicious and easy to cook. One of the most annoying parts about preparing any winter squash for cooking is removal of the seeds. One of my good friends, Eliza Hudson, showed me a wonderful trick that makes this step painless and quick. After cutting the butternut in half (and peeling if need be), use an old canning jar lid to scrape out the seeds. I know this doesn’t sound all that exciting, but believe me – it is amazing. Please try it.
Butternut squash is a food that can either be prepared for use in fancy dishes, or simply roasted in the oven. Both preparations will yield yummy results. I will share two simple ways to prepare the squash.
1. Slice in half, rub with olive oil or a little butter and roast in a 425°F oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh easily with a fork or spoon. Season flesh however you like (sweet with butter, sugar and cinnamon, or savory with butter and sage or thyme, etc.). I love the taste to sage with winter squash.
2. Peel squash and remove seeds. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Toss cubes with olive oil. Roast in a 425°F oven until tender. Serve with sautéed onion, garlic, sage, corn, or any other vegetable of your choosing.
Last fall one of our fabulous participants gave Kathleen and me about 2 bushels of butternut! (I know that I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, because I often return home to beautiful produce on my porch!) With all of this butternut at my disposal I began trying all kinds of recipes. I enjoy using Martha Stewart’s recipes. They are easy to follow and almost always turn out well. Her website also allows you to search by produce type and then flip through 30-100 different recipes featuring the produce you want. Try searching her butternut recipes.
My favorite butternut recipes from her site are Butternut Squash with Sage Lasagna, Butternut Squash with Sage, Butternut Bisque, and ButternutSquash Soup. Since our participants are beginning to harvest Shiitake mushrooms from logs we inoculated during our March workshop I think I will have to try the whole wheat pasta with butternut squash, beet greens, and shiitakes next!