Every fall I sit down and read McSweeney’s ode to all the beautiful gourds about to grace our tables. Honestly, I love all squash: acorn, delicata, pumpkin, spaghetti. But the one variety that really gets me in the seasonal spirit (like, gourd necklace–level excited) is autumn’s golden child, butternut squash.
For me, a sheet pan full of roasted butternut squash is a one-way ticket to fall. Sure, everyone talks about Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole or Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but there’s something so cozy about the nutty, caramelized taste of butternut. It’s satisfying, like a well-worn sweater, adding instant warmth to greens, grains, pastas, and soups.
And get this: By roasting three butternut squashes now, you’re halfway to various different meals throughout the week. Below, I’ve outlined how.
OK, Here’s the Plan
First, roast your squash.
There are so many different ways to enjoy butternut—boiled, baked, shaved—but for our purposes, I’ll give you two choices: roasted, skin on and skin off. I’m partial to keeping things simple with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. It makes it easier to play around with different bolder flavors when I repurpose the leftovers. If you really need a recipe, check out this one from weeknight dinner queen, Alexandra Stafford.
For skin-on roasting: Halve the butternut squash lengthwise, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, and bake flesh side-down at 375º F until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. With this method, the flesh can be scooped and eaten with some salt, pepper, and butter as a side by itself, or in one of the recipes below.
For skin-off roasting: Peel, halve, and deseed your butternut, then dice into 1-inch cubes. Toss with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season, then spread on a sheet pan and bake at 400° F for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir once about halfway through, and remove the sheet pan when the largest pieces are fork-tender.
Squash Tacos: Warm up a can of black beans with a squeeze of lime over the stove while microwaving your cubed squash. Take a cue from this recipe and try butternut squash tacos with crisp apples and chipotle-lime sauce. Oh, and make sure to char each side of the tortillas on the open flame of your gas stovetop (if you have one); otherwise, warm in a skillet (because cold tortillas are the worst).
Fall Curry: Start by sautéeing some onions and garlic in coconut oil. Then add about two cups of squash along with a cup of dry red lentils, spices (ginger, turmeric, curry), and a chopped carrot. Top it off with 3 to 4 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer until everything is tender. For a creamier curry, stir in about half a cup of coconut milk.
All of the Pasta: Honestly, it’s hard to think of what pasta butternut squash doesn’t work well with. My personal favorite is mixing warm cubes of it with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and pappardelle, but experiment with whatever shape and flavors strike your fancy. Psst! Feeling really ambitious? Stuff pureed squash into your pasta, like these cappellacci from Emiko.
Porridge, Night and Day: This is a big-batch mashup. I love making April Bloomfield's English Porridge for easy breakfasts, and when combined with two to three heaping spoonfuls of pureed squash, tahini, chili flakes, and a topping of crispy chickpeas, it makes for a mean dinner, too.
Bowls and Bowls of Soup: If your squash stash is looking a little sad, turn it into soup! Just add some chopped onions or leeks into an oiled pot and sweat them out until they’re translucent. Add the butternut to the pot, along with whatever seasonings you want (ginger and cumin; sage and nutmeg; miso and coconut) and top with liquid, like water or vegetable stock. If you used pureed squash, you’re golden. If not, simmer until everything’s tender, then off to the blender it goes! Add milk for a creamier soup, or skip it if you want to keep things simple.
Salad! Salad! Salad!: Deep, sweet butternut squash could sometimes use an acidic pick-me-up, which is why it practically screams to party with greens or grains, and a bright vinaigrette. You don’t have to go ho-hum with the pairings, either. Try tossing your roasted squash with sweet-tart orange tahini sauce, chickpeas, and cilantro for a hearty-yet-light lunch.
Everything Tastes Great on Toast
What's your favorite fall vegetable (or fruit)? Could you eat it all week long?
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).