In late August, people start lining up for pumpkin-themed drinks, and store shelves are lined with everything pumpkin spice. You won’t see butternut squash getting a latte namesake like pumpkin, or cute little rhymes on door hangings waxing poetic about butternut squash. The fact is, butternut squash has a tremendous amount of flavor of which pumpkin cannot boast. But where’s the love? It all goes to pumpkin.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy pumpkin and it’s employed in my kitchen in the fall and winter. But butternut squash is something I use all year because it doesn’t depend on heavy fall spices to lift the flavor. Pumpkin has to be gussied up, while butternut squash naturally has a rich sweetness and can stand alone. Home-canned pumpkin when preserved in chunks is a bit watery, but canned butternut squash collapses out of the jar for a more sturdy puree.
Butternut bacon pasta cooks in a skillet with spinach, onion, garlic, cream and Parmesan cheese. (Photo by Laura Woolfrey Macklem)
The reason butternut squash is superior when canned is that it has more than twice the fiber as pumpkin. And while butternut squash has more flavor and structure, you pay for it in calories. One cup of butternut squash is 80 calories, and the same amount of pumpkin only has 50, and more than twice the carbs, according to myfitnesspal.com. Both are healthy, containing important nutrients like magnesium, potassium, vitamins A and C. Butternut squash does muscle pumpkin out with twice the iron.
My family eats butternut squash all year long, in butternut squash macaroni and cheese, butternut squash lentil curry, and even pesto pizza with butternut squash. Now, these dishes can be used straight from my jars, but while it’s in season I create dishes calling for freshly roasted butternut squash, like this decadent pasta dish freckled with bacon and enveloped with cream and spinach. When it comes to autumn dishes, you might fall for this one the most.
Butternut Bacon Pasta
2 cups uncooked butternut squash in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 pound bacon
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 diced small onion
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup cream
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces farfalle pasta
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss prepared butternut squash with 2 tsp. olive oil and 1/4 tsp. salt and a few cracks of pepper. Bake until squash is caramelized on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta.
In a large skillet, cook bacon until half done, and finish cooking in the oven or microwave. After bacon is cool, crumble and set aside. Leave enough bacon fat in skillet for a nice, thin coating. Make sure water from the frozen spinach has been squeezed out and that the spinach measures to fill 1 cup. Sauté onion, garlic and spinach in bacon fat until …….