When folks come to visit it seems they always bring a few with them. The stores are loaded up with them and I cook them all the time in many different ways.

They are very meaty and yield a lot of flesh. Plus, they lend themselves to many flavors – curry, maple, apple, honey, bourbon, cinnamon and nutmeg to name a few. I give you a variety of recipes below to try throughout the winter. Butternut squash will keep until the Spring in a cool cellar.

Again, remember we all have to stay safe and please get vaccinated.

Traditional Pureed Squash

Butternut is a great squash to puree. It has a great yield of ‘meat’ and is really easy to prepare. It freezes perfectly and keeps in the refrigerator very well to use again in a few days. I am glad to have plenty of them.

  • 2 large butternut squash
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup new apple cider
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and trim the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and place the squash in a baking tray with small amount (1/2 cup) of water in the bottom. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for about an hour or until the squash is very soft. Let cool to make it easier to handle. Put the flesh into a medium sized mixing bowl and add butter, nutmeg, maple syrup, cider and salt and pepper to taste. You can add a dash of bourbon if you wish. Mash together with a hand beater or whisk. Softly heat in a saucepan or microwave just before service.

Butternut Squash Crisp

This is a takeoff on an old fall favorite – apple crisp. I like it not so sweet, but add a little more sweetener if you want. I love to use butternut squash in this recipe – It is one of the winter squashes that is easy to peel and cut up. There is very little waste and cleanup. A lot of friends grew them in their gardens this year and gave me many to use and store.

  • 1 large butternut squash – peeled, trimmed and seeded
  • 1½ cups apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup maple syrup or ¾ cup honey
  • ½ cup room temperature butter
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash into medium size chunks and spread the pieces over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Don’t pile up the squash – It should be almost a single layer. Pour the cider over the squash and drizzle the maple syrup or honey (or a combination of the two) over the squash. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the squash. Set aside. In a mixer combine the flour and sugar with a pinch of salt. Add the butter and combine to a mealy mix. Spread evenly over the squash.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes to one hour. The wonderful aroma of this dish will usually tell you when it is nearing completion. It should be bubbly and browned on top.

Let set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

This is a wonderful savory pudding to use when you are having a chicken or a roast. It almost serves as a stuffing for the meat. It is a different side dish to introduce this fall season. The bread you use in this recipe is important. I use a firm homemade style white loaf. A baguette or Italian loaf can be used. Make sure the bread is a little toothsome and not full of air. Using bread you cut yourself is helpful.

  • 1 loaf thick cut white bread with the crust removed
  • 1 large squash – peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into rounds.
  • 3-4 leeks – thinly sliced across the grain (can use 3 thinly sliced onions instead)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick soft butter plus some for sautéing leeks
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup bourbon or rye whiskey (optional)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 7 large eggs
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread in 1/2-inch slices. Cut the slices in half (roughly 2"x3" pieces) and set aside.

Toss the sliced rounds of squash with salt, pepper and olive oil and put on a cooking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they begin to soften. Let cool.

Saute the leeks in butter until they are very soft. Try not to let them brown up. Set aside. Lightly butter the bottom of an 8 x 11-inch lasagna pan and put a scant layer of the sliced and roasted squash in the bottom. Sprinkle a few of the cooked leeks over the squash.

Lightly butter each side of the bread and lay in the pan alternating with pieces of the roasted squash, overlapping one another (like putting shingles on a roof).

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk by hand or with an electric mixer set on low. Add the maple syrup and whisk or use mixer to slowly combine the eggs with it. Add bourbon. Whisk in the milk until combined to form a nice custard mix. It should not be foamy. Stir in the rest of the leeks. Pour half the mix over the bread and squash.

Push the bread and squash down into the mix with the palm of your hands until the bread has absorbed the liquid. Add the rest of the liquid. Press down again and let it be absorbed again. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the custard is absorbed.

Put a thin layer of roasted squash and the sliced onion rounds on the top of the pudding and dot with butter. Add fresh ground pepper on the top.

Place the pudding in middle of the oven for about 40 minutes.

The pudding should be puffed and slightly browned but still a little nervous. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the pudding and pulling it toward you just enough to see if there is milky liquid in the pan. If the bottom is still milky (clear is all right) put it back in the oven for 5 minute intervals checking for doneness each time.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Butternut Squash Gratin

A gratin is food broiled or baked at high heat in a shallow baking dish, usually round or oval. It classically has a breadcrumb or cheese topping that is browned or ‘gratineed’. This will be one of your favorites. Feel free to substitute any of the orange-fleshed squashes so prevalent this time of year.

  • 8 cups of cubed and peeled and seeded butternut squash
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper – coarse ground if you have it
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup walnuts – chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Toss the squash in oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray (spread out in a single layer.) Roast in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is soft and browned. Put in a buttered gratin pan.

Cook the orange concentrate and the cream until it is reduced by one third. Pour the cream mix evenly over the squash.

Combine the breadcrumbs and walnuts and salt and pepper it to taste. Spread over the top of the gratin and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 15 minutes until browned.