In South Africa, this vegetable is known as butternut. In the UK, it is called butternut squash. I gather that Australians simply call it squash. Whatever it is called in your neck of the woods, this is one of my favourite vegetables.
When I was still 'living at home,' as the expression goes (as if after leaving your parents' house you are doomed to nomad-status for the rest of your life), it was a family tradition to make a special dinner on birthdays and the birthday girl (because ours was a single-sex family) got to choose what was on the menu. When it was my birthday, you could pretty much depend on it that you would be eating butternut and cauliflower (with white sauce). When I was a student, I would quite often survive on baked butternut for days at a time.
Butternut is more like pumpkin that squash in both texture and taste. It is firm-fleshed and has a slightly nutty taste.
So... butternut. What do we do with them?
Butternut can be grated into salads, although it can sometimes give you that feeling of furriness on the backs of your teeth. I do have a recipe for a salad that uses raw butternut, but I have never shared it because it also requires - believe it or not - powdered jelly (jell-o), which isn't readily available in the UK. However, fret not if you live in a country which oozes jelly powder from every pore and you are dying to try something new and different. Here it is, on someone else's site.
Cooked on the hob
There are various ways to cook butternut on the hob. You can
- steam it on its own
- steam it with chopped onion and/or coriander leaves
- boil it (ditto the above two - and countless other - options)
- make butternut soup with or without orange, with or without cauliflower, with or without coriander leaves and chilli. Here's Catherine's guest post recipe from a while ago.
- make Malay-style cinnamon glazed butternut
Butternut is also fab for
- roasting - just do as you would do with potatoes, really. And once you've roasted it, you can use it for a different tasting soup, or for a scrumptious risotto.
- baking - cut them in half, wrap in tin foil and bung 'em in the oven at about 200C until you can stick a sharp knife into it with ease. Alternatively, if you have plenty of time (or no foil), just chuck 'em in whole until they're done.
- stuffing - cut the butternut in half, scoop out the pips and fill the hole with yummy things like chopped onion, bacon bits or whatever, then wrap with foil and bake as before. You can also fill the hollow after the butternut has been cooked with something like cheese sauce.
One of my favourite things to do with butternut is to bake it in the coals of the barbecue - either halved and wrapped in tin foil or whole as is. You can stuff them if you like, just as you would for baking.
I'm sure there are endless other things you can do with this delicious and versatile vegetable, like substituting it for pumpkin in a traditional American pumpkin pie. But that should be enough to get you started.
And feel free to share your own butternut ideas in the comments below, or on my Facebook page.