Sautéed Butternut Squash

Let’s learn how to make delicious sautéed butternut squash with this simple and flavorful recipe using bloomed herbs! 

This side dish is the perfect addition to your fall and winter meals. The combination of tender butternut squash and aromatic herbs creates that warm, cozy dish you crave on chilly days.

Sauteed Squash in a cast iron skillet with drizzle of salt

What is sauteing? 

Let’s begin by defining what sauteing is. To saute something is to simply add food to a thin layer of hot fat, olive oil in this case, and cook. Sauteing is similar to pan frying. 

In this version of the dish I am also going to teach you how to bloom herbs. Blooming herbs is an easy way to intensify the flavor and aroma of a dish. 

How to bloom spices

Bloomed herbs and spices are a great way to intensify the fat soluble aromatics in woody, hearty texture herbs, like thyme and sage.

To bloom herbs simply add spices into fat before the other components of the dish. Over medium heat this should take about 5-10 minutes, or until they’re fragrant.

Woody herbs are ideal for this application, since they’re best cooked. Versus more delicate herbs, like basil, which are better fresh or added at the end of a cook process.

Chopping fresh sage and thyme

Why you’ll love this recipe

Winter squashes are a personal favorite vegetable dish! 

  • They’re dense and creamy and create the perfect side dish, or base for a grain bowl or one pot meal. Check out more ways to use butternut squash.
  • This recipe is high in phytonutrients and provides magnesium, manganese, zinc, beta carotene, Vitamin C and fiber. 
  • It comes together in about 30 minutes, and best part, it’s mostly hands off. Making a very easy side dish!
  • Butternut squash has a long shelf life. Kept in a cellar, or cool space, it can last a few months, well into the holidays.
  • It’s grain free, gluten free, vegan and paleo. 

Nutrition, what about the carbs? 

  • Each cup contains about 22 grams of carbohydrates, however due to its’ high fiber content, the net carbs come in closer to a single carb serving, 15 grams.  
  • Good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, beta carotene and Vitamin C 
  • According to a study comparing organic and conventional squash. The organic crop contains more amino acids, potassium, manganese, magnesium, sodium, zinc and vitamin E. 
  • This recipe also uses a heap of fresh herbs to add a boost of polyphenols; including rosemarinic acid found to be anti-inflammatory and offer general health promoting benefits.

How to make sautéed butternut squash

Ingredients to make sautéed butternut squash including a medium sized squash, thyme fresh rosemary salt pepper and olive oil.

Start with a well chosen butternut squash. You want a firm squash, creamy in color and without blemishes, deep cuts or soft spots. 

Also take a look at its stem, and find a well attached brown stem. Avoid dark stems or those with loose attachments. 

First chop off both ends with a santoku knife, or similar, to create a stable base. And using a peeler, peel off the outer skin. This makes cutting the squash much easier.

At this time you can scoop the seeds and begin chopping. You can choose to cut the bulb end off first for more symmetry, or using the bulb end as an anchor, hold it while you cut the rest of the squash. 

Warm a large, 12” cast iron skillet on medium heat. Once warmed, add the olive oil and follow with minced rosemary and thyme. 

Now you’ll bloom the herbs, allowing them to cook alone in the oil for 5 minutes or so, until they’re fragrant. Bloomed spices will add extra flavor! 

Once the herbs are bloomed add the squash cubes, mixing them well to coat with the herbs and oil. Let them cook, uncovered for 10 minutes or so. Resist the urge to stir, let them sit to get caramelized and brown.

After 10 minutes stir again and allow to sit. On medium-high heat the squash will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook to fork tender. 

Don’t use a pan lid, this will trap too much moisture and result in soggy squash. 

The easiest way to cut butternut squash

Chopped, uniform butternut squash in a glass bowl
  1. Choose a symmetrical squash, this will make cutting easier. 
  2. Using a sharp knife, such as a santoku knife, chop off both ends of the squash to create a stable base. 
  3. Using a peeler, peel off the outer skin, starting at the top cut end. Removing the skin makes cutting the squash much easier.
  4. Scoop the seeds.
  5. Now you may choose to cut the bulb end off first for more symmetry, or use the bulb end as an anchor, holding it while you cut the rest of the squash. Check out my video for more help.
  6. Chop the squash into 1 inch cubed pieces. 

Video of sautéed butternut squash

Butternut squash – season & storage

Butternut squash is a versatile veg that can be a sidedish, or support the main meal.

  • Seasonal Availability:
    • Butternut squash is in season in the fall and winter months. This is when it’s at its freshest and most flavorful.
  • Storage:
    • Butternut squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months, making it available for consumption even outside of its typical season.
  • Comforting Fall and Winter Dishes:
    • It’s especially enjoyable in comforting dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles during the cooler holiday months.

What to serve with butternut squash?

Sautéed butternut squash pairs well with a variety of dishes, and what you serve it with largely depends on your preferences and the overall meal you’re planning. Here are some ideas:

Protein-Based Dishes:

   – Grilled Chicken: A simple grilled chicken breast or thigh complements the natural sweetness of butternut squash.

   – Roast Pork or Pork Chops: The rich flavor of pork works well with the earthy taste of butternut squash.

   – Pan-Seared Salmon: The buttery texture of salmon contrasts nicely with the slightly sweet squash.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options:

   – Chickpea and Spinach Curry: The creaminess of chickpeas and the earthy flavors of spinach pair wonderfully with sautéed butternut squash.

   – Lentil Stew: A hearty lentil stew with butternut squash makes for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

   – Stuffed Bell Peppers: A filling made with quinoa, beans, and spices, combined with sautéed butternut squash, creates a flavorful and nutritious dish.

Grains and Pasta:

   – Quinoa Pilaf: The nutty flavor of quinoa complements the sweetness of butternut squash, creating a balanced side dish.

   – Risotto: Creamy risotto with butternut squash is a comforting and flavorful combination.

Salads:

   – Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Pecans: The creamy cheese and crunchy nuts provide a nice contrast to the soft texture of sautéed butternut squash.

Sandwiches and Wraps:

   – Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos: Sautéed butternut squash, combined with black beans, makes a flavorful filling for tacos.

Soups:

   – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: Serve sautéed butternut squash in a soup or chili added texture and flavor.

Breads and Pastries:

   – Butternut Squash and Sage Galette: Use sautéed butternut squash as a filling for a savory pastry.

Remember, the key is to balance flavors, textures, and nutrition. Whether you’re looking for a side dish, a main course, or a complement to other elements of your meal, sautéed butternut squash can be a versatile addition to your menu.

Golden brown butternut squash in a cast iron skillet

Sautéed Butternut Squash

Make this delicious sautéed butternut squash with this simple and flavorful recipe! The combination of tender butternut squash cubes and aromatic herbs is the perfect addition to your fall and winter meals.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Harvest
Allergen: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 150kcal

Equipment

  • Cast iron skillet or large skillet
  • large wooden spoon
  • Santuko knife, or Nakiri, or Chef's knife
  • Cutting Board

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Sage, fresh, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbsp thyme, fresh, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1-2 tsp Salt, to taste

Instructions

  • First chop off both ends with a santoku knife, or similar, to create a stable base.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the outer skin by placing the peeler at the cut end of the squash and pulling down. Discard the skin.
  • Once peeled. Set the squash upright on the large cut end, then cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the seeds and discard.
  • Lay the squash with its cut side down. Hold the bulb end of the squash as an anchor, cut the squash into 1 inch strips.
  • Turn the squash perpendicular and cut the strips into 1 inch uniform cubes. This ensures even cooking.
  • Warm a large, 12” cast iron skillet on medium heat. Once warmed, add the olive oil and follow with minced rosemary and thyme. 
  • Now to bloom the herbs, allow them to cook alone in the oil for 5 minutes or so until they’re fragrant. Bloomed spices will add extra flavor!
  • Once the herbs are bloomed add the cubed butternut squash to the skillet. Spread it out evenly to allow each piece to come into contact with the skillet.
  • Let them cook, uncovered for 10 minutes or so.
  • Let the squash cook without stirring for another 4-5 minutes. This will allow one side to brown nicely. Stir and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes. Repeat this process until the squash is tender and has developed a nice golden color.
  • On medium-high heat the squash will take about 25 minutes to cook to fork tender.

Video

Notes

Even Sizing: Cutting the squash into uniform cubes ensures they cook evenly.
Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: It’s better to cook the squash in batches if your skillet is small. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking.
Don’t use a pan lid: this will trap too much moisture and result in soggy squash.
Don’t over-stir. Resist the urge to over stir the squash, allowing them to sit will create a nice caramelization.
Test for Doneness: The squash should be tender but not mushy. Test with a fork to ensure it’s cooked to your liking.
Variations: Feel free to get creative with spices or additional flavorings. Cinnamon, nutmeg, or a drizzle of maple syrup can be wonderful additions.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 677mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 20014IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 2mg

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