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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Cook of Matthew: Butternut Squash

Published: October 15, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Eating the same vegetables (or, more likely, no vegetables) every day can get boring. Luckily for you, it’s fall, and there are some delicious squashes in season. Don’t like squash? You will. Squash dishes are easy to make, tasty and good for you too.

Here’s one of my new favorites …

BUTTERNUT SQUASH (a.k.a. Winter Squash)

Butternut squash is probably one of the more recognizable squashes, thanks to its unique shape. It looks something like a giant peanut, tan with a round bottom and an oblong top.

As far as cooking goes, this squash is very low-maintenance. All you need are:

● A baking pan

● A cutting board

● A serving bowl

● A sharp kitchen knife

● A butternut squash

● Olive oil

● Sugar or honey (optional)

● 1 inch unsalted butter (optional)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, making sure you have at least one rack located in the middle of the oven. While that heats up, wash your squash in cold water, making sure to clean off any dirt. Then, cut off the stem and cut the squash lengthwise. This is by far the hardest step—when raw, squashes are rather dense and their skin is tough—so you’ll need a sturdy, sharp knife with a grip that won’t slip out of your hand. Don’t try to be a lumberjack and hack the thing to pieces; you’ll just end up hurting yourself. Instead, cut with a slow, sawing motion, while trying to keep the two halves even.

The inside of your slices will be mostly yellowish-orange in color. At their bases, you’ll notice small clumps of seeds. These are actually rather tasty when roasted on their own, but that’s another column altogether. For now, scoop them out and put them off to the side.

Next, take a little olive oil—not too much—and lightly cover the cutsides of both halves. Then, place them cutside down on your baking pan and put it in the oven.

Fun fact about ovens: They lose their heat—and their effectiveness—if you keep opening the door to check on your food. Cook time varies by squash size, but most only need approximately 45 minutes to an hour. When time is up, you can check your squash by sticking a fork in each half. If it slides in easily, you’re good to go.

Once you get your squash out of the oven, flip each half over and scoop the soft insides into a medium-sized bowl. At this point, you could start eating your squash and have a pretty satisfying (and steaming hot) side dish. But if you want to make it even better, add an inch of butter and sprinkle some sugar (or better yet, honey) into the bowl. As long as the squash is still hot, everything will dissolve nicely.

Sounds tasty, right? Now go COOK!