The first time I had butternut squash I was about nine years old. We were invited to a southern-style Thanksgiving, complete with collard greens, sweet potato pies, and a butternut squash casserole. The orange squash was mashed up with coconut and loads of butter and then baked with a sugared cracker topping. Technically, it was a dessert served as a side dish. But isn’t that what we love about southern cooking? While it tasted nothing like the actual squash, it got me over my fear of anything other than pumpkin.
Now days I eat my squash in its more natural form. Butternut squash is a little on the sweeter side, but still with an earthy edge. It is subtle enough to play a supporting role in salads or roasted vegetable medleys, but distinct enough to stand alone as a main player in soup or ravioli. Each fall I remake my butternut squash favorites, but am always on the lookout for new recipes to try. These are my three current favorites:
Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
Who doesn’t love a plate of gooey macaroni and cheese as the weather gets colder? This is one my favorite versions, with chewy pasta, tender squash, and crisp pieces of salty prosciutto all smothered in nutty Fontina cheese. All you need now is a roaring fire and a game of Scrabble going.
I had never even thought of trying butternut squash raw until I talked with my good friend JB’s grandfather. He is an avid gardener and always brings the most amazing produce when he visits his granddaughter. He gave me a beautiful butternut squash and suggested I try it raw in a salad. Amazing. There are probably a million combinations, but I’m completely content with this combination of greens, squash, cranberries, and toasted nuts.
Butternut Squash Soup
We eat a lot of soup during the fall and winter months. I’ll make a pot on Monday and we’ll eat it through out the week. This butternut squash soup is our new favorite, smooth and silky with hints of sweet carrot and spicy nutmeg. It tastes like autumn in a bowl.
Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese – Slightly varied from Macaroni & Cheese
- 1 lb. Butternut Squash (Pumpkin or Hubbard Squash work well, too), peeled, halved, seeds and strings discarded, cut into 1″ pieces
- 4 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 8 – 10 Fresh Sage Leaves*
- 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 8 oz. Casarecce, Cicatelli, or Gemelli Pasta
- 3 to 5 TB. Crème Fraîche
- 6 oz. Fontina Cheese
- 4 to 6 TB. Asiago or Parmesan, freshly grated
- Black Pepper, freshly ground
- 4 oz. Prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside. Save 1/4 C. of the cooking water.
Over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the squash until it becomes tender, but not mushy, and browns lightly in spots. About halfway through the cooking, add the sage and garlic. Place squash in a large bowl and set aside.
While the pan is hot, cook the prosciutto until crisp. Remove from pan and let cool on a paper towel lined plate. When cooled enough to handle, cut into bite size pieces.
Gently toss together the hot squash, prosciutto, and pasta. Spoon in the crème fraîche and half of the cheese. Toss together, pouring in the pasta water, until the pasta is well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.
*The day I made this my store was out of sage. I just substituted 1 tsp. of Herbs de Provence and it was fine. Not as fantastic as the fresh sage version, but still good.
Raw Butternut Squash & Greens Salad – Cocoa & Chanel
- 1/2 C. Raw Butternut Squash, grated
- 2 C. Greens (Collards, Kale, or Mustard), washed and torn
- 2 TB. Dried Cranberries
- 2 TB. Pecan or Hazelnut Pieces, toasted
- 2 TB. Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Fresh Parmesan Shavings, if desired
Place greens on a large plate and top with squash, cranberries, and nuts. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad and garnish with Parmesan shavings.
Butternut Squash Soup – The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook
- 2 – 2 1/2 lb. Butternut Squash, peeled, halved, seeds and strings discarded, cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 TB. Olive Oil
- 2 TB. Unsalted Butter
- 1 large White Onion, roughly chopped
- 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
- 3 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 3 leaves of Fresh Sage, plus additional leaves for garnish
- 3 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 4 to 5 C. Chicken Broth
- Black Pepper, freshly ground
In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until fragrant and softened, about 4 minutes. Add the nutmeg, thyme, and sage, cooking for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the squash, carrots, apples, and four cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cover, simmering until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat. Remove the thyme sprigs and sage leaves. When the soup is cool enough to handle, transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If a thinner consistency is desired, add the additional cup of broth. Serve while warm, with sage leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serves four to six.