“Try it, it’s good for you” was a common phrase at our table, usually said by me and directed to my boys. However with Butternut squash I would say “this is really, really good for you”.
Butternut is a super food packed with vitamins, fiber and anti-oxidants and I think it tastes good too. Last Thanksgiving, I used Butternut instead of pumpkin and nobody noticed my pumpkin pie had no pumpkin in it.
Why is Butternut a super food? Cooked Butternut has an incredible 457% DV Vitamin A and 51% Vitamin C to start with. Compare that to Acorn Squash at 12% vitamin A and 25% vitamin C. Oranges have 85% Vitamin C but only 4% Vitamin A. Plant based Vitamin A is called Beta carotene and is an important anti-oxidant. Vitamin A helps protect the surface of the eye and is important for good vision. Vitamin A deficiency in children can lead to blindness. Other orange vegetables such as Cantaloupes and Sweet potatoes are also high in Vitamin A.
An added bonus with Butternut is that it is easy to grow and versatile in the kitchen. I grew Butternut and Spaghetti squash last summer and was surprised how well they grew. Butternuts needs full sun and plenty of room. The vines can run 15 feet or more. It is important not to pick the squash too soon. If you want to store it during the winter, let the stem turn brown or die before harvesting. Be sure to cut off the stem about 2 inches long – if the stem is removed the squash will not store long. I leave the butternuts and spaghetti squash on the porch a few weeks to cure. Then I bring them in the house where they will sit in the kitchen for months until I need them. Butternuts can be made into pies and soups or roasted or pureed.
My friend Sherri has traveled several times to Australia and she says that Butternut is on almost every menu. This American vegetable is called Butternut pumpkin in the land down under where it is used as a vegetable and dessert.
Many recipes call for you to peel before you cook it but I think it easier to cook the butternut first and simply scoop out the meat. To prepare butternut, I cut the neck off and cut again lengthwise and remove the seeds. I prefer to steam it in my presser cooker but it can be microwaved and baked in the oven as well. After it is cooked, it can be used to make a pie or you might want to try this soup recipe given to me by Sherri Edwards. This is my favorite way to eat Butternut Squash if you do not like spicy soup leave out the pepper jack cheese. A perfect soup for a cold winter day and it’s good for you too.
Butternut and Cheddar Cheese Soup
I large Butternut cooked
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
½ c. mild cheddar cheese
½ c. pepper jack cheese
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper and salt and pepper
Add the cooked squash to the broth and puree with a hand blender or blender. Heat on the stove top slowly and add the sour cream. Do not let the soup come to a boil or the cheese will separate. Add the cheese and spices. Serve as soon as the cheese melts. I like to garnish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.