Squash Racket: A Healthy Butternut Bake

Doesn’t it seem like butternut squash only sneaks up on you during the holiday season, along with all those fattening foods? That probably explains why it’s considered “guilty by association.” However,  the fact is that butternut squash is so healthy and nutritious that it could and should become a mainstay of the diet throughout the year. 

The butternut squash, known in scientific circles as a variety of Cucurbita moschata, actually is a fruit by classification. When inspected and even when tasted, it seems more like a pumpkin that anything else. Butternut squash grows on a vine, just like a pumpkin. It gets more orange in color as it ripens, just like a pumpkin. It has a yellow fleshy pulp, just like a pumpkin. In fact, in Australia, it’s actually known as “butternut pumpkin”. But to me, that’s where the similarities stop.

When prepared properly, the butternut squash is noticeably less sweet, richer in earthy tones, and has a far more nutty flavor than that of the pumpkin. As such, this fruit is much more diverse in that it can be roasted and served with cinnamon, nutmeg, and melted butter; diced, cooked, and served as a side-dish; mashed like a potato; pureed to make a soup, and even baked into pies and muffins.

Here’s a easy, fiber-packed side dish to pull out any time of the year.

Butternut Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Tablespoon Fairway EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper
Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 375 F

2. Remove the stalk of the butternut squash, rinse, and cut in half length-wise.

3. Remove skin and seeds.

4. Glaze a baking sheet with olive oil and place butternut squash halves face-down.

5. Spice the outside with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper (my secret, if you like a touch of spice).

6. Cook until softened, about 45 minutes to an hour. Dice into chunks, and serve.

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