Here at Stearns we all seem to love our Butternut squashes. We have good reason- their sweet rich flavor coupled with the fact that they are packed with vitamins and are low in calories (just 82 calories per cup) makes their orange-gold flesh irresistible.

There truly is a wealth of nourishment supplied by the mildly sweet flavored and finely textured winter squash, a vegetable that was once so important to the diet of the Native Americans that they buried it along with the dead to provide them nourishment on their final journey. Winter squash, members of the Cucurbitaceae family and relatives of both the melon and the cucumber, come in many different varieties. While each type varies in shape, color, size and flavor, they all have hard protective skins that are difficult to pierce that gives them a long storage life of up to six months and a hollow inner seed containing cavity. A farm favorite, Butternut squash is shaped like a large pear with a cream-colored skin, deep orange-colored flesh and a sweet flavor. It’s thin skin makes it possible to peel, unlike many other winter squashes.

Winter squash is always served cooked, so after washing cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and fibrous material in the cavity. It is wonderful halved and roasted in the oven or mashed with butter, cinnamon and maple syrup and makes a very hearty and satisfying side dish. Since the Butternut variety can be peeled it can be cut into cubes before steaming or roasting and tossed with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, fresh sage and pasta. Add it to your winter soups and stews or simply puree it with a bit of butter and cream. One of the best ways to bring out the sweetness of the butternut squash is to roast it. Simply peel the skin with a vegetable peeler and cut the squash into one-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes. You can toss the roasted squash with fresh chopped herbs, like sage or oregano, and serve as a side dish or you can put the squash in a food processor or blender with cream or stock to make a hearty soup.