The crisp, cool days of autumn are here! Along with the beautiful autumn weather and brilliant fall foliage comes a new crop of fall fruits and vegetables. One of my favorites of these is butternut squash. The smooth, rich texture and sweet, nutty taste of butternut squash is perfect for fall comfort foods. As a bonus, butternut squash is also a nutritional powerhouse, packed with key nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, beta carotene, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Butternut squash is also extremely versatile and can be used in sweet or savory dishes and eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert! Here are 3 of my top picks for butternut squash recipes…
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili
The sweetness and smooth texture of the butternut squash combined with the spicy heat of jalapeños make this vegetarian chili recipe perfect for a chilly autumn evening or a tailgate party.
To make this Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili recipe, you will need…
1/4 c. olive oil
3 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded & minced
4 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
4 c. butternut squash – peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
To prepare the Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili, sauté onions in the oil until tender, then add garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeños. Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer this mixture to a crock pot. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Add the butternut squash on top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Serve the Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili with your favorite chili accompaniments.
Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
The creaminess of the butternut squash and cheese combined with the saltiness and crunchy texture of the bacon gives this butternut squash recipe a flavor and texture that is out of this world! Warning: do not attempt to calculate Weight Watchers points for this one!
To make this Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese recipe, you will need…
16 oz. dried rigatoni
4 1/2 c. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
3 1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. flour
2 3/4 c. smoked Gruyere cheese (smoked Gouda or Swiss cheese may also be used), shredded
10 slices bacon
3 small sweet onions, diced
4 oz. sourdough bread
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
To prepare the Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter a 4-qt baking dish; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
In a large saucepan, combine the butternut squash and 3 cups of the milk over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the butternut squash is tender. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour; stir into butternut squash mixture. Cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir 2 cups of the cheese until melted; keep warm.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon drippings. Return skillet to the heat.
Sauté the onions in the bacon drippings, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden.
Add the butternut squash-cheese mixture, onions, and bacon to the pasta. Toss well to combine and transfer to prepared baking dish.
Place bread in a food processor and pulse with two or three on/off turns to form large coarse crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl and mix with the melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and bread crumbs over the butternut squash / pasta mixture. Bake until top is browned, approx. 15 minutes.
Stuffed Butternut Squash
This stuffed butternut squash dish is a meal in itself. Kids in particular will love the sweetness of the butternut squash and fruit combined with the savory flavor of the sausage.
To make this Stuffed Butternut Squash recipe, you will need…
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. bulk sausage
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
1 large Fuji apple, peeled, cored & diced
1/2 c.sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 c. pecans, chopped
1/4 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1 c. shredded mozzarella
To prepare the Stuffed Butternut Squash, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil; set aside.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over the cut side of the butternut squash and season with salt and pepper. Place the butternut squash on the prepared baking sheet. Tightly cover the squash with another piece of foil; bake for 50-55 minutes (until just tender). Remove the butternut squash from the oven allow it to cool to the touch. Scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash, making sure to leave a 1/2-inch-thick border to create shells. Dice the butternut squash flesh and place in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine 2 tablespoons oil and butter. Melt the butter, then add sausage and garlic; cook for 3-4 minutes, breaking up the sausage. Add the onion and apples; continue to cook for 3-4 minutes or until sausage is cooked through and apples are tender. Remove from heat; add to the butternut squash. Add the cranberries and pecans; mix well.
In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the butternut squash mixture. Toss to coat well. Divide the butternut squash mixture evenly among the four butternut squash shells. Top each with parsley and mozzarella cheese. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.