Hello, Butternut Squash!

October 19, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

I love that living in France, I never run out of things to be fascinated with. My food fixations so far have been châtaignes à la vanille slathered on toast, Speculoos spread straight from the jar, roasted chestnuts, crème fraîche dolloped on or dipped into, crunchy(!) Speculoos spread (from the jar again. Move over Nutella), fresh hazelnuts, and now, butternut squash.

Butternut squash is the one vegetable (or fruit, technically) that was totally alien to me until just a few days ago. Sure, I’d seen recipes in books and blogs and didn’t think of it much more than a version of pumpkin.  A while ago, I spotted them sitting pretty at the farm in their birch wood vegetable bins and I decided I’d take them back home and do a little experiment. I didn’t. Instead, I let it sit in my fridge for a few days, uncertain about how I’d cook them and at the same time, slightly frightened at the thought of not cooking up something that blew my mind. (The good news is, they can sit in the fridge for quite a while and not go bad).

One evening, fearing that it might be past its prime, I pulled it out of the refrigerator. I began peeling the squash. “Is it supposed to be this hard?” I wondered. Or maybe the one I got is a bit raw because something with a name like butternut can’t possibly be this hard. Looking at the squash dubiously, I googled ‘is butternut squash hard to cut’ and voila, I had Elise confirm that cutting a butternut squash is indeed a notoriously difficult task. Soon, the cutting turned into sawing with the €5 Ikea knives (that were obviously not made for wresting this little beast), and I finally had slices of squash ready to be roasted.

I kept it simple – butternut squash, drizzled with a little olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, pepper and thyme roasted and then tossed with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

It smelled great, but I still didn’t know what to expect (especially since the raw texture threw me off). I bit into a cheese flecked slice and I realised I was in for a treat. Now I know the reason for the ‘butter’ in the name -  the texture of the squash transforms on cooking! Smooth, creamy, slightly sweet, perfectly balanced by the herbs and salty cheese, the roasted butternut squash was overwhelmingly impressive.

Of course, the slices of butternut squash got the mandatory dip into chilled crème fraîche.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Crème fraîche (or hung yoghurt, Greek yoghurt)

Method

  1. Grease a roasting pan with a little oil and then place the sliced squash on it.
  2. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and thyme and roast in a preheated oven at 220°C/440°F for 15-20 minutes, making sure you turn the slices halfway.
  3. Heat a skillet to toast the pine nuts, making sure you keep an eye on them. They burn really fast!
  4. Transfer the roasted butternut squash into a bowl and toss with grated parmesan and pine nuts.
  5. Serve hot with crème fraîche.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arch October 19, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Beautiful !! Does it taste anything like a pumpkin ? I have tried recipes using butternut squash, with pumpkin, like it, though dont know if it tastes anything like that !!

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2 The Purple Foodie October 19, 2011 at 11:31 PM

Arch – the only way I’ve eaten pumpin is in a sambhar or a spicy pumkin dish my grandma makes where it’s flavor is overwhelmed by the spices so I can’t be certain.

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3 Notyet100 October 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Still to trybthis veggie,platter looks yum,.

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4 Sanjeeta kk October 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Simple and delicious dish! Olive oil could make anything exotic.

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5 Iris October 19, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Wow!! I definitely HAVE to try these.
Are there any other herbs I can use to garnish them?
The last time I’ve eaten a butternut squash is when I was a child, so I’m not familiar with the flavor..

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6 The Purple Foodie October 19, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Iris, sage would be lovely! Or just tinker with whatever you have at hand. You never know…

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7 Woody Creek Lavender Farm October 19, 2011 at 7:54 PM

If you split it in half, oil it, put it face down on a pan and cook it about 20 min the skin comes right off! Much easier to slice too! That trick has been a lifesaver since we love butternut squash here too. I love to smell it after I cut it fresh…smells like watermelon. :)

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8 The Purple Foodie October 19, 2011 at 11:33 PM

I didn’t think of watermelon. Will focus more on the smell next time. : )

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9 Swati October 20, 2011 at 12:35 AM
10 Jyoti October 20, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Hi Shaheen,

I am one of the silent ones on your website, but really enjoy reading about your kitchen experiences.. Congratulations on your wedding and Welcome to this part of the world!! I am from Bombay and live in Basel ( Switzerland ) now and food here never ceases to amaze me… Do holler if you visit Swiss- it is only about 3 and half hours by TGV.

As for the butternut squash, I recently saw a simple but yum looking pie recipe by Nigel Slater…Here’s a link and have a good Autumn!!

http://www.celebritykitchen.co.uk/nigel-slaters-butternut-squash-pie

Cheers
Jyoti

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11 Kalyn October 20, 2011 at 4:15 AM

Yes, it can be a pain to cut up, but so tasty. Yours looks just delicious.

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12 Hima Ashra October 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Hi, Butternut squash is a delight to eat. You can cut it lengthwise into slices (with the skin on) then generously apply a mix of olive oil, red pepper flakes, thyme and coriander powder with salt and black pepper. It tastes awesome can be used as a side dish with some roast coz it happily cooks in a sheet while the roast is getting done. It can also be made in to a sandwich with some greens and a crusty bread. Awesome.

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13 Maria October 20, 2011 at 6:46 PM

Love this recipe! Perfect for fall!

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14 Magpie October 21, 2011 at 11:51 PM

hehe such a funny post! Enjoyed reading it :) Love butternut squash too! Roasting them is definitely the best way to eat them I think, also sweet potatoes. Tho I do think they make a nice substitute for the Indian pumpkin that goes into a lot of our curries like this one from Kerala I recently guest posted for Sala:
http://magpiesrecipes.blogspot.com/2011/09/red-moong-and-squash-erissery-for.html
Giada has a nice roasted squash pasta dish we really liked too

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15 sapphire October 22, 2011 at 1:46 PM

At home I make a butternut squash lasagna. Roast them, puree them with milk/cream. Add spices and your lasagna will be to die for. Just make sure the puree isn’t too watery or your lasagna will float.

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16 Holly October 23, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Things I’ve found in France: légumes anciens. Those old vegetables no one knows any more, including white carrots and purple cauliflower. And all of the different types of squash! I bought a carnival squash two weeks ago that a combinations of pumpkin and butternut. Winter vegetables are amazing – who knew?

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17 Helene October 24, 2011 at 2:17 AM

I hope to be able to visit someday. There is so much food that I would like to try.

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18 shweta j October 26, 2011 at 11:53 PM

Hi, finally read your mediterrean post in BBC Good Food. Loved it ! Looking forward to more of your articles & blog posts

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19 Biana @ Easy and Tasty Recipes October 27, 2011 at 2:48 AM

I love butternut squash! It’s great in soups, with meat sauce, in risotto. I like your simple recipe for it, will have to try it.

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20 Chez Us October 29, 2011 at 8:41 PM

I have been lurking over here, every so often; but, my months have been so busy, that I have not really had time to properly say – I am so glad you are living in France! Now I can feed my addiction through you!

Butternut squash is wonderful to cook with; both savory and sweet. During the winter months I use it all the time. It is really good in soups. Another squash that we are having a love affair with is: Kabocha Pumpkin. Have you tried it? Love it!!!

xo ~ Denise

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21 The Purple Foodie November 2, 2011 at 1:17 AM

Going to keep my eyes peeled for Kabocha! I spotted Spaghetti squash, but was a little intimidated.

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22 trish November 13, 2011 at 8:26 PM

I made this recipe and it came out beautifully. I was anticipating a heckuva time cutting and peeling the squash, but my sturdy carrot peeler ended up working really well. Also, I added the parmesan and pine nuts for the last minute, which also worked out very nicely. The only thing I did not get right was the presentation – I cut the squash into long slices which did not present well at all because they were uneven and irregular. Any suggestions on how to cut it nicely? Cubes maybe?

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23 The Purple Foodie November 14, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Why not? What’s really important is a good, sharp knife. I just like how wedges look.

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