This cold spell we’re under calls for some comfort food, and there’s nothing better than some smooth, creamy winter squash to warm you up and fill your belly. You will find tons of recipes online that call for ButterNUT squash, but our growing season is too short to have a guaranteed crop of butternut. What we grow instead is a dark green, turban-shaped squash called the Burgess Buttercup. This squash is immensely popular in Brazil and Africa, as well as in New Zealand, and on the east coast of Canada. We often have customers at market who are originally from New Brunswick, PEI or Nova Scotia who remark that ‘back home’ there’s buttercup served a couple of times a week – it’s a real staple for them. And Buttercup squash is our good friend Jill’s absolute favorite squash (possibly even her favorite vegetable). I asked her to put it into
words for me, since I’m not feeling very eloquent today,and this is what she came up with: “Buttercup squash tastes like a warm summer day. The flavour is of deep blue skies, the shining sun, and good earth.”
How can you resist trying it out, with a description like that?!
Buttercup squash is dark green, often with yellow or white stripes on the outside, but the inner flesh is a pale orange. When cooked, its consistency is reminiscent of sweet potato – creamy and smooth, with a sweet and nutty flavour. The squash is on the dryer side, but the dryness can be counteracted with the cooking method you choose. Steaming or baking the squash adds moisture to the flesh, and really brings out the sweet flavour. The outer skin can be a bit of a challenge to cut through before it’s cooked, so if you don’t have a sharp enough knife, or don’t feel like using a bit of elbow grease, the squash can be cooked whole. Similar to what you would do when baking potatoes in the oven, simply pierce the squash a few times with a knife and wrap the whole squash in foil, with the shiny side facing in. Bake in the oven for an hour at 350F. We really like to get the flesh caramelizing a little bit, so we’ll usually cut it raw and roast it, cut-side down, for 45 minutes. Another option is to cook it whole for half an hour in foil, then remove the squash and cut it in half (the knife will go through the skin much easier once it’s cooked a bit). It’s important to remove the center seeds, just as you would any other winter squash. And, just like pumpkin seeds, the Buttercup seeds can be roasted, and make a wonderful snack, with a bit of salt and pepper. Roast the seeds at 325F for 20 minutes or so (the lower heat minimizes the damage to the healthy oils found in the seeds).
Buttercup squash is high in carbohydrates, which is, in part, what makes it a real ‘comfort food’, but the bonus is that it’s loaded with nutrients, and low in both calories and fat. In just a ½ cup serving on Buttercup squash, you will get 3g of fiber, Vitamin A (all of beta-carotene you need in a day), Vitamin B, and half of your daily value in Vitamin C. The squash is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron and zinc (you can learn more about the nutritional profile of Buttercup squash HERE).
Buttercup squash has enough flavour on its own, so there’s really not a lot you have to do to it for a delicious meal, snack, dessert or side dish. Once it’s roasted, we’ll often just scoop it out and eat it as-is, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Dawn makes a delicious blended soup with the flesh, and it’s also delicious when it’s added to a curry dish . As a side dish, it can be used in place of sweet potato/yams at a turkey dinner, yet it’s sweet enough that it can be used as a pie filling, or even simply mashed with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and eaten as dessert.
If you’re thinking of picking up a Buttercup or two at market this weekend, but aren’t sure how you want to eat it, I found a bunch of great recipes over at The Daily Meal Now we just have to figure out which one we’re going to try first. Bread, casserole, or roasted dessert? Hmmmmmmmm………