Butternut squash is a hard-skinned winter squash with dense, sweet, orange-colored flesh. Its outer shell is thin and easy to peel. Butternut squash is especially rich in vitamin A, and also a good source of vitamins C and E. It's a beneficial source for the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium, as well as dietary fiber. Butternut squash may be roasted, braised or even grilled.
Season butternut squash with earthy herbs that complement the sweet notes of the squash. Choose sage and rosemary, either of which can be used fresh or in dried form. Simply roast cubes of butternut squash that are sprinkled with chopped rosemary leaves. Or add a dash of sage to a white bean and squash soup.
The warm "pie spices" of nutmeg and ginger are a good match for butternut squash, both underlining and balancing its sweetness. For a savory approach, consider cumin. Chilies of all sorts also match well with butternut squash, providing a delicious sweet-and-spicy flavor combination.
Squash and beans both originated in North America as two of the fundamental foods of Native American cuisine; they have thousands of years of history together. Butternut squash pairs well with all sorts of legumes, including white beans, black beans, pinto beans, blackeyed peas and split peas. Combine them in the same dish, as in a soup or stew, or serve them as separate side dishes to a main course such as roast pork or sausages.
The naturally sweet taste of butternut squash is enhanced when paired with fruit, such as fresh and dried apples, fresh pear, orange juice and dried cranberries. Cook and puree apples and squash as a side dish. Or roast cubes of squash and toss with dried cranberries and warm spices for a relish-type dish.
Orange and green vegetables together provide both a nutritionally powerful meal and a winning flavor combination, with the squash's sweetness balancing the earthy greens. Choose kale, spinach, chard and collards. Saute them together, add both ingredients plus beans to a minestrone, or serve a side of sauteed greens next to a bowl of roasted squash soup.
Butternut squash marries well with mild, slightly sweet meats, such as chicken or pork. Roast pork, sauteed pork chops and roasted chicken thighs are flavorful partners. Add butternut squash to beef stew, or saute smoky bacon bits with squash cubes and apple pieces for as a substantial side dish.