Fall may be pumpkin season, but my personal favorite early fall offering is its cousin, the humble butternut squash. For those of us who are not capable of carving larger gourds, it’s an easier start to sustainable fall eating.
The hearty vegetable is high in vitamin A, E, C and a whole variety of other doctor approved nutrients – particularly fiber. It lends well to a variety of cooking, and though several verbs can be applied (sautéed, fricasseed, pureed, etc.), I prefer roasting it with spices. You can either buy the pre-cut variety in stores, or buy it whole, and chop it into halves. (Small note: uncooked gourds requires a little strength as it is dense, and can be slightly slippery.)
Afterwards, cover it with olive oil, and sprinkle the insides with whatever spices you have on hand – usually, I use cinnamon or nutmeg – and if my boyfriend is around, a little brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Butternut is sweeter than, say its cousins the Kabocha or Acorn squash, and pairs well with many dessert spices. Bake until soft and fluffy, and you will probably have enough for dinner and leftovers.
After this, the options are endless. I personally like to lay it over fresh spinach maybe with some corn and goat cheese. Any dressing would suffice, but I generally drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (unmixed! Yes, really), and add salt and pepper to taste. Add in some pomegranate seeds, or maybe a poached egg if you’re feeling daring, and you have a rich meal that tastes as fall should – sweet, hearty, simple, and delicious.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Spinach, Corn, & Goat Cheese
1 butternut squash
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ tablespoon of brown sugar (or to taste)
1 ear of sweet corn
2 cups of spinach
1 tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Heat the water to a medium boil, and throw in corn.
- Split the butternut squash in half. Cover with olive oil, and sprinkle on spices. Bake face down over foil for 15-25 minutes, or 30 if you forget to preheat the oven. If you aren’t sure the intensity of your oven (say if you use it to store your sweaters and mittens), check in every 5 or so minutes until it is soft. I poke it with a fork, until the fork comes out cleanly.
- Take the squash out of the oven, and let it cool.
- In the meantime, take out the corn, and let it cool – or conversely try your best not to burn yourself while cutting off the kernels. Toss it in with the spinach, along with anything else your heart desires. (Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, poached eggs, etc.)
- Cut the squash into whatever shape you like best, and throw it into the mix. Crumble some goat cheese over it, drizzle some olive oil/balsamic, and add in some salt and pepper to taste.
By Susan Xu, 2014-15 Topics & Trends staff member