Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Butternut Squash

If you’ve looked around the produce section of your local supermarket lately, you’ve probably seen lots of butternut squash lining the shelves.  Butternut squash, a close cousin of the pumpkin, is ubiquitous this time of year, and that’s not a bad thing.  Like other orange-hued fruits and veggies, it’s extremely high in Vitamin A and an excellent source of Vitamin C.  It’s also high in potassium and magnesium.  Pureed butternut squash makes a great substitute in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.  Although nothing beats the convenience of being able to buy and use butternut squash that’s already been pureed, cooking with whole butternut squash is almost just as simple.  However, a lot of people are hesitant to cook with whole butternut squash, because they believe it takes a lot of time to prep.  In reality, it only takes a little more work to prep a whole butternut squash than it does to open up a can or defrost a block of the pureed kind.  In order to prep a butternut squash for recipes like the one below, all you need to do is microwave a whole squash for 6 minutes, turning halfway through; peel it; cut it in half; scoop out the seeds; and then cut it into cubes.  You can also cheat a little by buying pre-cut butternut squash in the produce or freezer aisle (I won’t tell anyone if that’s the route you choose to take!).

Butternut Squash and Parmesan Bread Pudding

Ingredients
3 cups (½-inch cubed) peeled butternut squash
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
8 ounces (1-inch) cubed day-old whole wheat bread (about 9 cups)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Arrange squash in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  3. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until tender.
  4. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
  5. Combine milk, ½ cup cheese, pepper, nutmeg, eggs, and egg whites in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  6. Stir in squash and onion mixture. Add bread, and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.
  7. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.
  8. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until pudding is set and lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine, October 2004

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