Eat Local Spotlight: Butternut Squash

Butter Me Up Butternut


Nutty, Sweet and Good to Eat

With its wonderful nutty flavor and delicate sweet taste, butternut squash continues to grow in popularity.  And lucky for us in Hawaii, this yummy member of the gourd family is grown locally by family-run Ho Farms on Oahu.

Selecting a good butternut squash is easier than you think!  “A ripe butternut will have an even, dark tan color. The darker the skin, the longer it’s been allowed to soak up the sun and the sweeter it will be,” says Shin Ho of Ho Farms.  Look for product that feels heavy when held and emits a nice, woody note when tapped.  A few surface blemishes are okay since the skin is so tough, but avoid squash with wrinkled skin.

Packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants, butternut squash is healthy and good for you.  Low in calories, it also provides a good dose of dietary fiber, potassium and folate and is great for skin, heart and eyesight health.

Butternut squash is wonderfully versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Roasting enhances its flavor and adds a rich taste—without the fat—to stews, curries, soups and even baked goods.

Here are a few tips on preparing, cooking, and storing butternut squash:

Soften it Up! Butternut squash has a tough rind so if you need chunks for a soup or stew, try piercing the skin with a fork or knife first, then microwave it for three to four minutes. Allow it to cool, then peel and chop.

Soup-er Duper! When pureed, butternut squash adds a wonderfully rich taste and texture to soups, without any guilt! It’s great in bisque because its creaminess means you can omit adding actual cream.

Oh Baby! Puréed butternut squash is delicious on its own and its sweet taste makes it a favorite with young children. In fact, it’s a popular — and ideal — first food for babies.

Get Ready to Roast!  Roasting caramelizes the squash, concentrating its tasty flavors and enhancing its natural sweetness. To bring out the best in your butternut, split it open lengthwise, remove seeds, oil the flesh lightly and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. The flesh should be dark orange and soft when done.

Don’t Forget the Seeds! Like pumpkin seeds, the seeds of your butternut squash can be roasted for a tasty, healthy snack.

Keep it Cool! Stored in a cool, dry place out of sunlight, butternut squash will keep for several months.  Once cut, the squash should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.

Did You Know?
butternut squash desserts

You can replace butter with butternut squash when making baked goods! Substitute three-quarters of a cup of roasted, pureed butternut squash for every cup of butter in desserts like spice cake, muffins, and banana bread. Just be sure to check for doneness early because replacing butter with vegetable puree can result in faster baking times.


spicy butternut squash chili

Spicy Butternut
Squash Chili
Makes 6 Servings

Not only does this vegetarian chili pack some heat, but it’s a wonderfully healthy and delicious comfort food that is tasty and satisfying any time of the year.
  • 4 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 5 tomatillos, outer papery husks removed
  • 6 chipotle chilies, canned
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, cored, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 medium-size sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 medium onion, halved, then finely sliced
  • 4 cups peeled, 3/4-inch cubed butternut squash
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans with water (do not drain)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels or frozen white corn kernels
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 cup water or vegetable stock
  1. Preheat a heavy skillet on high heat.
  2. Add the tomatoes, garlic and tomatillos. Allow them to char on one side.
  3. Turn over and allow to char on the other side. Remove from heat.
  4. When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and remove the stems from the tomatoes and tomatillos.
  5. Combine with the chipotle chilies in a blender and pulse until smooth but still slightly chunky.
  6. Heat oil in 4-quart pot over medium heat.
  7. Add chili powder, green and red peppers, and onions; sauté for 5 minutes.
  8. Add butternut squash, oregano and cayenne pepper; sauté for 5 minutes.
  9. Stir in corn, black beans, tomato mixture, salt and water; cook for 15 minutes or until the squash is tender, but not mushy.

Did you make this recipe?
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