, a member of the crucurbitaceae family, is one of countless varieties of squash
. They are of varying shades of orange, often a foot or more in height, are bulbous
at one end and gradually taper. They have a dense flesh ranging from light gold to deep orange in colour.
A half cup serving of butternut squash contains up to 80 percent of the U.S. RDA of Vitamin A. They are also high in Vitamin C. According to the American Cancer Society, deep-yellow foods such as acorn, butternut, Hubbard and other yellow squashes that are rich in Vitamin A may lower the risk of some cancer
s, notably cancer of the larynx, oesophagus and lungs.
The peel is inedible because it’s tough and is often waxed to preserve the squash. And butternut can be horrible to peel. The easiest method I have found is to use an enormous cleaver to make a cut across the base, then stand the squash upright and make a cut straight down the centre. Lay the two halves flat and cut across to chop them into one or two inch half circles. Then you can pick up the half circles and use a paring knife to remove the skin and seeds. The sections can be further chopped into a dice if smaller pieces are needed for a recipe.
Once chopped, all that remains is to decide what to do with the pieces. One thing I strongly suggest you not do is to make a “macrobiotic special” with them, which was my introduction to butternut squash. A macrobiotic special is a bowl of boiled chopped root vegetables with little to no seasoning. Not appetizing.
My first attempt to cook squash consisted of liberally seasoning the pieces with salt, garlic, black pepper, ancho chilli powder, and roasting them in a little olive oil until they were quite blackened around the edges (carefully burnt food is one of my specialities). Then I tried fancying it up a bit - if you cut straight through the squash, you can make little squash rings. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can bake them and fill the rings with some sort of filling (perhaps mushrooms, sliced onions and red peppers) and then melt some cheese on them. They’re pretty good, but way too fiddly, so I only did that once.
These days I sometimes roast pieces when I make roast potatoes and other roasted root vegetables or make butternut squash soup with it.
Butternut squash will keep for months if stored in a cool, dry place. When buying it, beware of lightweight squash with wrinkled skin. Squash contains a lot of moisture, so these symptoms indicate that it is far past its prime.