It’s a sure sign of fall when butternut squash returns to your rotation of easy and healthy weeknight meals. Amy Gorin, a registered dietician based in Stamford, Connecticut, says there are numerous delicious ways to get cooking with this nutrient-packed seasonal veggie. Googling an easy butternut squash soup recipe is about as classic as it gets. Most take minimal prep—but don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to simmer and process with a blender. Try topping with homemade croutons for a filling and complete meal on a cold night.
Roasting butternut squash, of course, remains a very popular option when the craving strikes for something rich and hearty. Gorin likes to sweeten her roasted butternut squash naturally, with pomegranate vinaigrette. The vinaigrette complements the seasonal flavors of the butternut squash, Gorin says. “Winter squashes in general have natural sugars,” she says, “and when released the vegetable becomes really sweet.”
When prepping the squash for roasting, Gorin leaves the skin on for added fiber: “I barely notice I’m eating it, and I find it makes you eat more slowly,” she says.
Another idea is to make squash noodles with a spiralizer. To do this, choose a squash that’s as cylindrical as possible. Peel, then slice off the stem. “Halve the remaining part of the squash so you have two pieces, about three inches wide each,” Gorin says. “Spiralize these pieces with the thickest noodle setting, then place them on nonstick cooking trays coated with oil.” Drizzle with oil and toss to coat, then roast at 400° until soft, which should be 5 to 7 minutes.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, Gorin says, try a new spin on pizza night by switching out your regular tomato-based sauce with butternut squash puree. Simply roast a butternut squash, scoop out and mash with some chipotle spice. Then spread on rolled-out pizza dough or on a flatbread and add your favorite cheese and toppings.
Gorin says squash doesn’t always have to be part of the main meal; it also makes a fabulous appetizer. She likes placing the cubes on a skewer and lining them up on a platter for a healthy appetizer. Alternatively, put a toothpick in each one and place on a colorful plate. Kids in particular love interesting food presentations, and research shows visuals matter when it comes to what and why they eat.