In my mind, there is no more quintessential fall vegetable than butternut squash. I start craving it as soon as the first leaves show signs of color and the nights turn chilly. I firmly believe that its sweet-savory flavor belongs in everything from warm fall salads to weeknight pastas. Don't you feel the same?
Butternut squashes are those creamy-colored and bottom-heavy specimens that always seem to be wobbling precariously on the display tables. It's hard to pick a bad one, especially during the fall and winter months. Check the area around the stem and on the bottom; the flesh here should be firm and hard, never soft. Some nicks and scratches on the skin are fine, but it should otherwise be unblemished.
Small squashes are sometimes sweeter than larger squashes, but since prepping these rock-hard fall vegetables for cooking can be such a pain, I generally prefer to buy medium-sized squashes. Prepping several small squashes seems like more trouble than they're worth and the giant ones can prove unwieldy to handle.
If you plan to use your squash within a week or two, leave it out on the counter or somewhere at room temperature. Squashes will also keep for several months in a cool, dim, and relatively dry environment, like the basement steps or an entryway closet.
Ready for some butternut cooking action? Here are some recipes you'll love:
• How to Cut a Butternut Squash
• Warm Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad
• Fettucini with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Brown Butter
• Butternut Squash, Apple, and Sage Soup
• Couscous Salad with Butternut Squash and Cranberries
• Butternut Squash and Parmesan Dip
What butternut squash recipe are you looking forward to making?
(Image: Emma Christensen)