Roasted Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash looks just like mini butternut squash, but on the inside you'll find an even sweeter, deeper orange flesh. This winter squash has only been available at farmers' markets and in select grocery stores for a few years. If you see it, grab a few to try! This simple roasting method enhances the natural flavor of the squash with butter and spices.
What Is Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash is a relatively new hybrid version of butternut squash. It has the same shape as butternut squash, but it's much smaller, about the size of a medium potato. Its skin is bright orange as well as the flesh which has a sweet and nutty flavor.
In 2009, Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill challenged vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek to "breed a butternut squash to actually taste good" so that cooks wouldn't have to add so much added sugar (like maple and honey) to get a delicious-tasting butternut. Mazourek's response was this adorable tiny squash: the honeynut squash, which does indeed taste like a sweeter butternut squash.
How to Cook Honeynut Squash
You can cook honeynut squash in much the same way you cook other winter squash varieties, but the honeynut has some advantages. Its small size lends itself well to simply halving it before you cook it and its tender skin is thin and edible so it does not need to be peeled. You can steam, mash and stuff honeynut squash, but simply roasting it as we do here, with minimal embellishments, lets its naturally sweet and nutty flavor shine.
Where to Buy Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash can be found in large well-stocked grocery stores and farmer's markets from September through December. While some winter squash can withstand long shelf lives, honeynut squash is more delicate and quickly loses its flavor as it sits which makes it hard to find out of season.
How to Prep Honeynut Squash
Each one serves just one to two people (finally a squash we aren't eating for days!) and they're so easy to prepare. Here's how:
Steady the squash as best you can on a cutting board. Insert the tip of a large heavy chef's knife into the center of the squash in a lengthwise direction. Place a folded kitchen towel between your hand and the spine of the knife and apply pressure to work your knife through one half of the squash. Spin the squash 180 degrees and repeat the process on the other side.
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the first shallow layer of flesh for a smoother surface. You can clean the seeds and roast them like you would pumpkin seeds, or discard them.
Our favorite way to flavor honeynut squash is with a simple combination of butter, cinnamon, salt and pepper. But feel free to experiment with any flavor profiles that excite you! We just recommend about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil and a sprinkling of seasoning (about 1/4 teaspoon) per squash half.
Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer & Devon O'Brien
1 starch, 1 fat