From Pizza to Pie: 7 Yummy Ways to Feast on Fall’s Butternut Squash
Autumn has arrived, and just like you’re swapping sandals for galoshes, the changing seasons probably have you thinking about switching up your meal-planning, too. We’ve got the fresh solution: Load up your cart with butternut squash!
It’s versatile. With a sweet, nutty flavor, this culinary jack-of-all-trades works well in both savory dishes and desserts. You can roast it, steam it, sauté it, purée it, or crisp it up. It’s tasty on its own, but also plays quite nicely with a kajillion other ingredients.
It’s practical. Not only is this a budget-friendly choice, you can also store it for up to three months in a cool, dark place. (You can also freeze cut squash to use later.)
Kids love it—or they don’t notice it. Either way, you don’t have to fight them to eat it and they’re branching out from chicken nuggets.
It does a body good. Butternut squash is packed with fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C. It’s also low in calories, with next to no fat or sodium—and yet it’s still very filling!
It makes a surprisingly awesome jack-o-lantern. Just Google it—you won’t be disappointed.
As for the cons? We can’t think of any! Here are seven squash-tastic ways to use it:
1. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Pizza. For a quick weeknight dinner the whole family will devour, see delicious photo above and follow these steps:
Step 1) Stretch store-bought pizza dough (or use a premade pizza crust, flatbread, or naan) onto a baking sheet.
Step 2) Top with butternut squash purée, slices, or chunks—you can roast your squash (we suggest doing it the night before you make the pizza), steam it, or sauté in a little olive oil or butter.
Step 3) Sprinkle with your kiddo’s favorite cheese—mozzarella, Parmesan, Gouda, goat cheese, or even cheddar are all great. No need for extra frills, but you can certainly add other tasty toppings, such as diced tomatoes, greens, crumbled sausage, bacon, pine nuts, sweet onion, fresh herbs, or dollops of pesto.
When the pizza is ready, cut it into small pieces and place the whole pie on the table so little hands can grab their own slices. In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods—like butternut squash pizza!
2. Fancy(ish) Ravioli. A frequent flyer on menus at posh restaurants, butternut squash ravioli with sage and browned butter is actually super easy to make at home. The trick? Substitute wonton wrappers for pasta. This employs a seasoned-squash-only filling, while an Allrecipes rendition features mascarpone and Parmesan cheeses in the mix.
3. Satisfying Soup. Warm and comforting (and perfect for crisp fall days), butternut squash soup is also one of the simplest slurps out there to make: This basic Food Network recipe only requires five key ingredients and can be prepped and ready to eat in an hour or less. But we also love the look of Cookie + Kate’s rich roasted squash version and Minimalist Baker’s accessibly exotic curry and coconut flavors.
4. Luscious Lasagna. True, we’ve rarely met a layered noodle casserole we didn’t adore—but this delish dish from the Julia’s Album blog had us at hello. With a creamy butternut squash filling and three cheeses, chances are your little one won’t even notice the spinach. Consider serving it as an unexpected but downright special vegetarian main or side dish for Thanksgiving! (Take note: Julia’s Album specializes in easy, fast meals for busy week nights—check it out and be inspired.)
5. Go-Ahead-Have-Another-Handful Chips. Everyone can feel good indulging in these baked butternut squash crisps from the A Couple Cooks blog. A sprinkle of finely-grated Parmesan over top gives this delightfully crunchy snack a savory boost.
6. Nutritious Baby Food. Have a wee one bellying up to the dinner table for her first bites? Sweet, velvety butternut squash is a nutritional powerhouse that also pairs beautifully with meats, lentils, and fruits when baby is ready for a purée combo meal. Parents.com shares the squash baby food how-to.
7. Downright Delicious Baked Goods. Insider tip: You can use butternut squash as a substitute for pumpkin in any of your favorite recipes! But if you’re looking for something new to try, we’re also fans of these hearty whole-wheat muffins with chunks of apple and pumpkin-seed streusel from PBS Food, the Pasty Affair blog’s decadent spice cake with cream cheese frosting, and the Splendid Table’s better-than-pumpkin pie.