Butternut Squash courtesy Forest & Kim Starr

Butternut Squash courtesy Forest & Kim Starr

Don’t get me wrong — I love butternut squash soup, and soup weather is certainly upon us. But the fact is, butternut squash remains an extremely versatile and greatly typecast gourd. Relatively simple recipes can be just as good as more elaborate preparations, but no matter the difficulty, the slightly sugary and nutty flavor of the squash (not to mention silky texture) lends itself equally well to both savory and sweet experiments.

Butternut squash can be steamed or boiled, but its flavor is best expressed if roasted. Simply split the squash, remove the seeds (don’t toss them! see below*), drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake, flesh side down, at 425°F  on a baking sheet lined with foil for 35-45 minutes, or until fork tender.

Once the squash is cooked, the possibilities are endless. Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto is an absolute favorite, as is Maple Mashed Butternut Squash. Donalyn Ketchum makes a simply stunning Butternut Squash Gratin, a new recipe I gave a whirl and instantly fell in love with. If your cravings are leaning towards the sweet side of the spectrum, impress your taste buds with a bowl of  Ginger Butternut Squash Ice Cream if it’s too cold out for a frozen dessert, perhaps Butternut Squash Panna Cotta could somehow satiate your carnal cravings.

Whatever you end up making, don’t throw away the seeds!

Don’t toss the squash seeds!
Rinse the seeds from your squash in cold water, allow them to dry, sprinkle liberally with fine sea salt, and roast at 325°F on a sheet tray for 6-8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

And if you’re really set on making a soup, Alton Brown’s Squash Soup has a great flavor, is easy to prepare, and is a nice canvas to touch up any way you see fit.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy winter squash?