Vegetation Profile: Butternut Squash

Butternut, like the other winter squashes, has a lot more to offer nutritionally speaking than summer squashes and zucchini. Butternut’s deep-orange flesh is richer in complex carbohydrates and, as you might guess by its color, in beta-carotene. Butternut squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber, and supplies vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and a good amount of potassium.

Butternut squashes range from about two to four pounds in weight. The squash rind should be uniformly tan, with no tinge of green. The rind should be smooth and dry, free of cracks or soft spots. Also, the rind should be dull; a shiny rind indicates that the squash was picked too early, and will not have the full sweetness of a mature specimen.

I went to the grocery store the other day with an itemized list of things to buy. Even though butternut squash wasn’t on my list, I left the store with two in hand. Culinary curiosity often supersedes culinary practicality. I’m normally not much of an impulse shopper, but the temperature in Pasadena dipped into the frigid fifties this past week, and I had to mark the rare occasion with some genuine autumnal produce. In Southern California, cooks must act fast when preparing seasonal dishes because eighty degrees seems to always be lurking around the corner.

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