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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.