The poor man’s pumpkin

This is my second of three food memos about butternut squash.
screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-2-09-51-pmIt tastes like pumpkin. It’s orange like pumpkin. It can be baked and cooked just like a pumpkin. Butternut squash, however, is a bit more manageable and provides similar health benefits as pumpkin does— just in a smaller package.

Even people in Australia and New Zealand call it butternut pumpkin, according to a World’s Healthiest Foods article.

The butternut squash is a member of the winter squash family along with pumpkin. Its botanical name is Cucurbita moschata, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website. Squash is a fruit. However, squash is commonly eaten as a vegetable or in ways that are more similar to preparation and contexts of other vegetables.

Squash are native to Central and South America, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website. The squash is usually not harvested young at its bloom time in summer, but left to mature. It is an annual plant and does best in full sun. It can be consumed along with its seeds, flowers and its stems, according to Neglected Crops: 1492 from a Different Perspective by J.E. Hernándo Bermejo and J. León. Nutritionally, butternut squash is high in protein.

When preparing a butternut squash to eat, it must be cut open and the seeds removed. Like a pumpkin, a butternut squash has a hard outer layer. The outer skin can be removed and the remaining squash can be cut up into bite-sized pieces. After that, the squash can be drizzled with melted butter, sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar and pepper, and then roasted for about 20 minutes in an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius). That technique is used in the picture above and creates a sweet, caramelized squash — and an aroma that makes any home smell wonderful.

Other common ways to prepare butternut squash include soup, cookies and risotto.

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