Butternut Squash screams fall. The color, the pumpkin-adjacent seasonality, the way it pairs best with savory meats and decadent pasta…it all combines to make butternut squash the autumnal darling of the vegetable world.
And yet, like most things, there are a lot of horrible versions of butternut squash out there. Some take the humble squash and make it cloyingly sweet. Some take the beautiful butternut and forget that vegetables require seasoning to come to life, leaving it bland and mealy. Some lace it with so many other ingredients that the flavor of the squash is overshadowed by too many other players.
No more! Today, I want to share with you what at first glance will appear to be a rather hum-drum recipe for butternut squash. However, hum-drum it is not. Butternut squash requires a nimble knowledge of balancing flavor. We want it to be savory, but we also acknowledge this squash brings a natural sweetness to the plate, and we want to highlight that. We want it to be roasted, but deliver a depth of flavor that keeps it from being bland. But mostly, we want the butternut squash to be the center of our attention.
The secret to the recipe below is the use of two fats (olive oil for browning, butter for flavor), the exact right amount of salt, and the smallest hint of brown sugar, which is there merely to bring the natural sweetness to light. You will not think of dessert when you eat this version of roasted butternut squash. You will remember why you love this versatile vegetable and immediately create new reasons to incorporate it into your next menu.
A final note. Yes, of course, you can peel and chop butternut squash on your own. If you do so, please be safe and use a sharp knife while keeping your precious fingers out of harm’s way. However, you can also choose to purchase the pre-cubed butternut squash from your produce shelves and save yourself the headache. Since weights vary from brand to brand, the recipe is written to accommodate anywhere from 1 1/2 pounds to 2 pounds of squash.
Roasted Butternut Squash
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds peeled, cubed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted or very soft
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the butternut squash, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, and brown sugar on a sheet tray. Use your hands to evenly spread the butter and sugar around until it is fairly well combined and not all in one clump.
- Roast the butternut squash for a total of 45 minutes, checking on it after 30 minutes. Depending on the size of your cubed squash, the cook time might vary. You are looking for the squash to be completely soft in the center and beginning to brown and take on color around the edges.
- If it is not fully cooked after 30 minutes, give it a toss on the sheet tray and return it to the oven for 15 more minutes. I like my butternut squash really toasty on the edges, with the sugar beginning to caramelize.