Perfect for adding some colour to your plate, butternut squash is a versatile ingredient that goes a long way – whether roasted, mashed or blended.
Technically a fruit, in the same family as courgettes and pumpkins, it's the most common winter squash. Although it varies in shape and size, it tends to be a large pear shape with a tan exterior and a creamy, sweet orange flesh.
A good source of vitamins A and C, butternut squash is at its best in the UK from September to December. It can also help you increase your daily dietary fibre intake.
Here are our top tips on buying, storing, preparing and cooking this seasonal favourite...
Buying and storing
How a squash looks will tell you a lot about how it’s going to taste. Look for one that’s a matt tan/beige colour all over, with firm and unbroken skin. Weight is also important – it should be heavy for its size, as this indicates a high moisture content. If you want to extend the life of your squash, keep it in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area, where it’ll keep for at least three months. If you store it in a fridge or at room temperature, use it within a couple of weeks.
Tips for preparing
- With its awkward shape and tough skin, it can be difficult to peel a butternut squash, so take care. If your knife isn’t sharp enough, try piercing the squash a couple of times with a fork and microwaving it for two minutes to soften the skin.
- How to peel and deseed: Cut off the stem and bottom end of the squash so that both ends are flat, then slice it in half (ideally at the point where the thinner end of the squash begins to widen). Place each
half of the squash on a chopping board, flat side down, and peel with a knife or peeler. Keep peeling until all of the green lines – which can be tough – have disappeared and all that remains is the orange flesh. Cut the fatter piece of squash in half lengthways, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon (keep the seeds as you can roast them). Slice or dice, depending on your preference.
- How to prepare for roasting with the skin on: cut off the stem and bottom end so that both ends are flat, then cut the squash in half vertically. Scoop the seeds out with a metal spoon and reserve for roasting. Brush the orange flesh with olive oil, then place, flesh side down, on a baking tray and cook.
Butternut squash can be roasted, toasted, mashed or pureed – the options are endless!
Try the following:
- Roast it, without the skin, sliced or diced. Drizzle with oil and crushed garlic, then spread evenly on a baking tray and cook for 30-40 minutes. You can then add it to a warm autumn salad with pasta or quinoa, mash it for soup or risotto, or serve alongside meat, fish or vegetables.
- Roast it, skin on, by brushing the flesh side with oil, then baking (flesh side down) for 1 hour, turning once during cooking. It’s ready when the beige skin is slightly browned, and the inner flesh is dark orange and soft.
- Pan fry it with curry paste, then combine with stock and other veg for a vegetarian curry.
- For chips, cut the squash into wedges or sticks, drizzle with oil, then roast for 15-20 minutes.
- Make the most of a butternut squash’s sweet flavour by using it in your cakes and other bakes.
- You can even use the seeds for a healthy snack. Rinse with water (removing any strings or squash flesh), pat dry, then drizzle with oil and season with salt, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes.