November 17, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash, Easy and Delicious!

Butternut squash is so good! You barely have to do anything to it and it is delicious. Well, with the exception of, ahem, getting it into an edible form. This squash does take some effort to peel and dice. It's easier than you think, though! Here is how to very easily get your butternut squash ready, and this recipe for roasted butternut squash could not be easier. You'll be surprised that the only ingredients are squash, olive oil, sea salt and pepper!

A question I've been asked a lot in the past week is, 'what are you serving for Thanksgiving?' Now I love Thanksgiving, but I am not of the opinion that you have to eat the same thing every year. For example, instead of sweet potatoes, I am planning on serving this delightful roasted butternut squash. It's not quite as sweet as sweet potatoes, but it certainly still has some sweetness, which is brought out with the roasting and very nicely offset with sea salt. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash
1 medium sized butternut squash
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. One medium sized butternut squash is probably acceptable for about 4 side servings (you'll have to eyeball it). If I were having 6-8 people, I'd probably cut up 2, and 8-12 people, 3. It will depend a little on how big they are. You'll need disposable plastic gloves (like you see at the doctor's office, you can buy them at the drugstore), a 6 inch chef's knife and a vegetable peeler. You may be wondering why you need the gloves. It's my preference to use them for a few reasons. Butternut squash kind of stains your hands and really dries them out, it's really quite odd, because putting on lotion doesn't seem to help. It is as if your hands have been 'sealed' by the juices. Also, they can be slippery, so the gloves help a little. Finally, wearing the gloves makes it a little less gross when you take out the seeds. You don't have to use them, but you might be more comfortable. Here's a quick how to on peeling and dicing your squash. You want the pieces to be about 1 inch cubes or so.

Using your chef's knife, which you might notice in the video I hold with my thumb and pointer finger on either side of the base of the blade, you want to cut off the top part that has the stem. The reason it's good to hold your knife like this is that it gives you more stability and it is less likely to move from side to side. Cut the squash into about three sections, each section should be about four inches long. Then, take your vegetable peeler, and peel off the outer skin. You will probably see green veins. Try to peel the outer layer until the squash is about the same color as the center, this may take more than just once around. Once it is peeled, cut it into small pieces, about one inch.

When all your squash is cut into small pieces, place on one or more baking sheets. You'll want them to be spread out and not on top of one another, they won't roast well if they are crowded. Pour olive oil over the squash, and using a spoon, turn over the squash and move around until all pieces are coated with olive oil. I suppose you could do this in a bowl, but I think it's just as easy to just do it on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. A good rule of thumb when applying salt and pepper is that you'll want less pepper than salt.

Roast at 425 for 35 minutes, stirring a few times during the roasting. Stirring them will ensure even cooking and browning. Believe it or not, you are done! Baby likes these, so give them a try with your little ones, too!

Another question I've received is how do you make sure everything is ready at the same time? That is a tough endeavor and it certainly takes planning and execution. Here's the good news about this dish, though, you can prep the squash (cut it up) and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. You don't have to worry about it turning color like potatoes. You know you'll need 35 minutes to roast them and getting them ready to go into the oven is a snap with just olive oil, salt and pepper, so you can do that when you're ready to put them in.

As if you needed more reasons to love butternut squash- did you know that compared to sweet potatoes it is lower in calories, carbohydrates and sugar? One cup of sweet potatoes equals 130 calories and the equivalent amount of butternut squash just 63 calories. Hooray butternut squash!

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