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Branching Out: Butternut Squash

Fall is in full swing but may soon be making a quick exit as the temperatures continue to plummet and the rain turns to snow. Despite the weather taking a turn for the worse, Thanksgiving is and has always been a staple fall holiday, so if rain turning into wet snow could hold off for a few more weeks, I think we’d all be happy.

Let’s talk about the Thanksgiving meal, of course there’s the turkey, the stuffing, the mash potatoes, but what about the vegetables? I suppose each table has their own favorite, but a lot of times the poor vegetables are over looked for the other goodies that make the meal. I think most of us wish we could enjoy the food of Thanksgiving more than once a year, so here’s your chance.

Know that bowl of yellow-orange unidentifiable specimens on the table that everyone overlooks? My guess is that it is squash. Now it could be because it’s the way its prepared that looks unappetizing, or you just fill your plate so full you’ve never attempted this vegetable, but I’m telling you, you’re missing out.

There are several varieties of squash, from yellow to acorn to summer and the list goes on. One of my favorites is butternut; once you experience the buttery and nutty taste of butternut squash (wonder where the name came from..!) any negative connotations associated with squash will be diminished.

From the outside the squash is protected by its thick and tough skin but once you peel into it you see the sweet, orange flesh inside. This squash is so versatile, from cutting it up into cubes to roast, or throwing it in a soup, stew, salad or really any dish where you would find a peeled vegetable.

Butternut squash is rich in vitamin A and antioxidants and low in calories, a perfect choice when the fall and winter climates run the produce section bare. The unpeeled squash can be kept around for a month in a cool place, but once cut make sure to refrigerate in an airtight container and use within a few days.

My favorite way to eat squash? Peel and chop into cubes, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and mince up a few cloves of garlic and mix together. Throw it in the over at 350 for 30 minutes and there you go, you’ve whipped up a side dish to go along side any meal.

By Melissa Lembo