Did You Know?

This long-necked squash is one of the top sources of vitamin A.


Can it be? The puree sold in cans as pumpkin pie filling is often its sweeter cousin, butternut squash.

It's hard to resist butternut squash. Even its name sounds delicious, evoking the buttery, nutty taste sure to tempt vegetable-wary kids. In fact, butternut squash is so good, it's easy to forget that it's also good for you: One cup supplies almost a whole day's worth of beta carotene, the yellow-orange pigment (most famously found in carrots) that's converted by the body into vitamin A. It's also packed with almost half the amount of vitamin C you need for the day.

Butternut is classified as a winter squash. Though winter squashes are best harvested in fall, they're named for the coldest season because they can be stored through winter; butternut will keep for three months in a cool, dry place. Unlike summer squashes (such as zucchini), winter ones have hard, inedible rinds and must be cooked. Butternut has softer skin than others, so it can be peeled raw with a vegetable peeler. For our recipes, remove the skin before cutting the squash with a chef 's knife and scooping out seeds.

With few seeds, butternut offers more flesh per penny than any other squash. Choose one that feels heavy for its size and has a thick neck, which is where most of the edible flesh is located (the seeds are at the base of the squash). Look for smooth, unblemished skin and a tan, even color.

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