Butternut Squash at the Cafė

November 3, 2022

As the weather starts to cool and you begin to visualize your upcoming holiday plans with friends and family, you may switch up your meals to those involving comforting fruits and vegetables, like butternut squash.

Butternut squash in the field of the Cafe farm
Butternut Squash waiting to be harvested at our Café Farm after growing throughout the warm months.

Even in California, where temperatures are reluctant to let go of the summer warmth and the trees don’t change to quite as many colors as in other parts of the country, we know what the first bowl of rich butternut squash soup or satisfying the craving for our seasonal butternut squash gnocchi (pictured above) can do for the soul.

From Our Farm to Your Fork

At the Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafė, we love incorporating butternut squash into our fall and winter recipes. It is such a comforting food with abundant versatility. You can find it throughout our menu, from pizzas to salads to a seasonal dessert!

We are big fans of butternut squash. Our Cafė Farm grows around 4 tons every summer! If you didn’t already know, most of the Café’s produce is organically grown on our farm in Los Olivos, CA, just minutes from downtown.

The Sunny Side of Butternut Squash

Two bins filled to the rim with freshly harvested butternut squash from the Cafe Farm
The Café Farm produces nearly 4 tons of butternut squash every year that makes its way to on our menu nourishing our guests.

The idea of roasted butternut squash, or our butternut squash gnocchi, brings to mind cozy feelings reminiscent of the autumn and winter months. This is only the case with the warm summer months to thank, however. Despite being classified as winter squash, butternut squash plants are annuals grown on a vine in the spring and summer. This is because the plant requires between 75 and 100 days to grow and should be harvested before any frosts arrive. Because of this harvesting period, it is considered a winter squash.

Our farmers plant butternut squash in May and harvest in October, so the squash our guests enjoy eating in the winter months has been growing all summer.

Summer Squash vs. Winter Squash

There are a few distinctions that set summer squash and winter squash apart. Winter squash tend to have thicker skin than summer squash, which makes them last longer. Butternut squash, when stored properly, can last for several months! Summer squash are more tender (think zucchini or yellow squash) and don’t last as long.


Butternut squash at the Los Olivos farm
Butternut squash is an excellent addition to your plate through the fall and winter months. 

Other types of squash of the winter variety include acorn squash, kabocha, Hubbard, and spaghetti squash, with butternut as a popular favorite.

How to Pick the Perfect Butternut Squash

When picking your butternut squash, select one that is moderately heavy for its size and still has its stem intact. The outer skin should be relatively free of soft spots or deep cracks. It is also generally best to choose one with a solid beige color and a matte (not shiny) exterior.

How to Roast Butternut Squash

One of the best ways to cook butternut squash is to roast it. Once roasted, add the versatile squash to your favorite fall and winter recipes (such as soup or pasta) or serve as a side.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, you should wash your hands and the butternut squash before cooking. One suggested method for washing the squash is with water and a clean brush to scrub the outside. Once washed, you can dry the fruit with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Butternut squash from the farm
Have you tried our roasted butternut and burrata salad? The squash comes fresh from our own farm!

You do not need to peel the butternut squash before roasting, but you will want to cut the squash in half carefully and remove the seeds. Then, place the squash on a baking sheet cut-side up. To keep the flesh from drying out, lightly oil or butter the cut side of the fruit. Depending on how you will serve the squash, add herbs, salt, spices, sweeteners, and more before putting it in the oven.

Roast the butternut squash for at least 30 minutes until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Let the squash cool once completely baked, then peel the flesh from the skin.

Other methods for cooking butternut squash include baking and boiling. The difference between baking and roasting is the temperature. Roasting the squash requires a higher temperature of 400 degrees or higher, and baking is at a lower temperature of 375 degrees or lower. Roasting is preferred for butternut squash to lock in the flavors by browning the surface. Roasting also carmelizes the natural sugars for a rich butternut squash flavor.


What’s Not to Love About this Fruit?Butternut Squash Creme Brûlée with Fall Pumpkin display

Although butternut squash is commonly considered a vegetable, the fact that it has seeds classifies it as a fruit. Definitions aside, butternut squash is filling, delicious, and versatile, and we cannot find a reason not to love it!

Our menu is rotated based on the seasonal produce we grow on our cafė farm, so we are excited to bring you these new dishes to enjoy in view of our cozy fireplace. If you’d prefer to take your food home, we highly encourage a pair of warm fuzzy socks to accompany the meal.

Whether dining in or ordering to-go, next time you come by the cafė, check out our updated menu with our delicious and creative seasonal selections that Chef Brooke and the kitchen staff have crafted.

Meet our new Executive Chef Brooke Stockwell

November 9, 2021

After over a decade at the helm of our kitchen, Chef Chris Joslyn, has moved with his family to Nevada where he hopes to continue using his talents and expand on his passions. We are grateful for his dedication and the many dishes he created that nourished and delighted so many of us through the years. The timing couldn’t have been better for Chef Brooke Stockwell to move into this position.

We are excited to introduce you to Chef Brooke, our new Executive Chef at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café!

Brooke grew up on the California Central Coast in a family where food was part of the conversation; the love that was baked into it nourished her appreciation for how food connects and fulfills us in a special way.  Her roots were at the essence of what drove her passion to not just be a really good at-home cook, but to pursue her love of cooking as a career.

Throughout the last 18 years as a professional chef, she has honed the style of her cuisine into what she describes as “simplistically elevating local ingredients.” Brooke shares, “the dishes I create highlight the bounties of the season and convey the labor of love generated from the farmers to the plate.” What better way could she elevate local ingredients than leading a kitchen at a restaurant with its own farm?
the tree in the tomato

Chef Brooke grew up locally with a large garden in her yard, raised hogs in the FFA, and is no stranger to hunting or fishing.  After graduating with honors from high school, she attended UCLA as a Communications Studies major intending to go into advertising or marketing.  However, while she was at UCLA Brooke heard the calling of her upbringing and took a U-turn back to Santa Barbara and navigated her path into the restaurant business through the formal studying of culinary arts.  While in culinary school, Chef Brooke worked as a private chef and was able to build confidence and establish a style of cooking that reflected her appreciation for the land and the flavors that seasonal freshness can express. This expression of the seasons is at the heart of what makes Chef Brooke’s cuisine an ideal fit for our establishment. (We hope you got to taste some of the lovely ways Chef Brooke made use of the abundance of organic Café Farm tomatoes recently! If not, no worries, she’s been busy canning them for marinara and more.)

After an intense and educational experience working for celebrity chef Rick Moonen in Las Vegas, Chef Brooke was elated to take what she learned and return to the Central Coast where she has gained more experience as Executive Chef at the Inn at Morro Bay, the 1880 Union Hotel & Saloon, K’Syrah Catering & Events, and Roblar Winery.  Now, as a highly regarded seasoned chef, we proudly welcome Chef Brooke as Executive Chef at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café. Chef Brooke is the ideal person to continue our 26-year reputation for creating fresh, local, sustainable cuisine.

Chef Brooke in action

And now…
Chef Brooke shares her enthusiasm for this new position, “As the Executive Chef of Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café, I am excited to share my passion for cooking by celebrating the Central Coast and our Café Farm with the dishes I create.”

It is not only important for a chef to be able to create an impressive menu but it is quintessential they lead the kitchen staff with integrity, and a sense of humor is always helpful. Spend a few minutes with Chef Brooke, and you will notice the twinkle in her eyes and her contagious delightful demeanor that we are grateful to have leading our team in the kitchen.

Chef Brooke enjoys meeting guests and getting personal feedback, we invite you to give Brooke a warm welcome next time you dine with us.