One of my favorite Fall ingredients is Butternut Squash. I love it so… I love making soup with it, salads with it, casseroles (like this lasagna with sausage– yum!!), pureeing it as a creamy side dish in place of mashed potatoes or stirring it into my macaroni and cheese sauce, using it in both sweet and savory methods… It’s a wonderful and really versatile vegetable. I think a lot of people buy it and decorate with it, forgetting they can actually cook the thing.
I happen to do both. I buy a lot of them, put them, along with their other gourd-geous friends, on my kitchen table, and little by little the display gets smaller and smaller from all the cooking.
My go-to way to prepare butternut squash is to roast it.
But keep in mind that’s my go-to way to prepare most anything. When you roast a vegetable- drizzling it with some oil and seasoning it with salt, perhaps a little sugar and cook it at a high heat until caramelized on the outside and soft in the center- it becomes its most perfect self. It’s like us women folk after a hella makeover- when our hair is styled, makeup done, clothes fitting perfectly… we feel our best self when all the beauty stars align, right? It doesn’t have to be a lot of hair styling, or a lot of makeup, or a super fancy outfit…. it just means everything is on point.
That’s what roasting a vegetables does to it.
So do that butternut squash on your kitchen table a favor and give her a damn good make-over.
And then I’m gonna say gourd-geous one more time in case you missed it before.
HONEY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Peel your squash using a heavy duty vegetable peeler. If you don’t have one of those really wide, sturdy ones, you can use a chef’s knife and shave down the edges, taking off the peel as you would a pineapple.
Cut off each end.
Slice the now naked squash across the middle at the point where the neck becomes more bulbous and round. (The rounder end contains the seeds.)
Working with the neck end first, cut it in half lengthwise, flip those halves over so the flat part is facing down on the cutting board, giving you some good stability. Then slice each of those halves into long strips about an inch wide- you generally get 4 ‘strips’. Then slice those strips across the other way into cubes, roughly 1 inch in size.
For the rounder end of the squash, slice in half as you did the neck end. Scoop out the seeds and strings (using a grapefruit spoon for easiest results) and discard (or reserve for roasting and snacking!). And proceed with the same slicing method as before, only you won’t get as uniform pieces.
Place your squash squares on a well-oiled baking sheet, coat with more vegetable/canola/light olive oil, season liberally with kosher salt.
Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. The squash should now be golden-browned and softened. If not, roast in 10 minute increments until it is (ovens vary). Drizzle with a good amount of honey, sprinkle with some cayenne pepper (optional) and a splash of white wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar can also be used). Toss to coat. Place back in the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until the squash is glistening and caramelized.
Taste to check seasoning, adjusting if necessary. It should be both sweet and savory, with a hint of spice (if you used the cayenne) and a backbone of tang from the vinegar to offset the honey.
Garnish with chopped sage if desired.
Either eat it cold or room temperature in a yummy salad of some sort…
Or eat it warm, alongside anything you’d like!
And bonus points for doing so on a cool, Autumn evening.