Did you Know Butternut Squash Makes a Delicious Finger-food? Here’s How!

Butternut squash. When it comes to food, this gem is one I look forward to each fall.   As a kid, I grew up with winter squash on my dinner plate and perhaps that is why I love them so? Just in case, I am certain to include them (along with a variety of other fruits and vegetables) on our own dinner table to encourage my two boys to give them a go. I remember my mom would serve several types of winter squash with an incredibly kid-friendly flavor duo: butter and maple syrup! Hello, YUM! Whether she was serving mashed butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash, this pair would join it’s side.

Today, I offer similar flavor offerings, though while my kids are still only ages one and two years, I do the majority of seasoning for them. One of their favorites as of late is Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Bites. All it takes to prepare is a 1, 2, 3 punch! (Wash) Peel, Dice, and Roast.

But before I dive into the recipe, let’s talk about the HOW-TO when it comes to preparing that cumbersome squash!

How to Dice a Butternut Squash

  1. First, wash your squash well with water and scrubby to get any remaining dirt or grime off.
  2. Second, chop the ends off of the squash to create a flat surface to stand it up on.
  3. Next, Cut the squash in half right between the skinny part and the bulbous end.
  4. Stand up each half vertically, and using a sharp Chef’s knife (or your favorite large knife), cut the peel off in long strokes.                                       TIP: I used to opt for a vegetable peeler, a la Martha Stewart, but after cutting my knuckles far too many times, I was overjoyed to learn the #kitchenhack of using a knife while reading Good Housekeeping! However, if you own a Y-Peeler this method will still work!).
  5. Once the peel is removed, Cut the squash in half to open it up, creating 4-quarters. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds (you can roast these just like pumpkin seeds if you would like).
  6. Finally, cut a grid-like pattern into each quarter of the squash. Be careful not to cut all of the way through so that the long pieces you are creating all remain attached to the end. Once your grid is cut, you can slice into the squash as you see below to create your dice.

Dicing Butternut Squash

Here is my “go-to” Chef’s knife caught in the act of dicing the bulbous end of the squash. Notice how a single cut is able to yield multiple bite size pieces. Very similar to dicing an onion!

Now, for the roasting!

Squash prepped? Check. All that’s left is to add your family’s preferred flavor mix, whether that is more of a spicy mashup of chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder, a sweet combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of brown sugar, or the classic olive oil, salt and pepper. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed! Here is our family’s favorite, hope you enjoy it as much as we have!’

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Bites

Yield: About 5-(1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash

1 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP pure maple syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground pepper

3/4 tsp kosher salt (or other coarse salt)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place butternut squash onto a large rimmed baking sheet, preferably your darkest option.

Add the oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, ground pepper, and salt. Toss directly in the pan with the goal of coating each piece. Place baking sheet in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. You will know they are done when the edges begin to turn a beautiful golden brown, crisping up just enough.

Tip: Keep an eye on the squash, depending on your oven, you may wish to stir them after about 20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

KidsMeal_ButternutSquashSausage

While the squash was roasting, my husband grilled a few Apple Chicken Sausages to accompany our meal. Quick and easy!

Thanks for reading! Live well + eat better.

Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN

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