As a kid, I never liked butternut squash, it was always mushy and flavorless. Years later, I learned how to make it. It is funny how subtle things in a recipe sometime make all the difference in whether we like or dislike something. Growing up, butternut squash was one of those foods that I was forced to try periodically, but just never enjoyed. I push my boys the same way, to keep trying different foods. I cook a lot, and my boys are very used to seeing me in the kitchen “at work”. When I’m done making something, whether it’s for dinner or for my blog, I strongly encourage them to taste it. Since they were young, we have called this the “thank you bite”. Some things I know in advance they probably won’t like, and that’s ok–they are young and their palettes are developing. But I think introducing them to new flavors, textures, and consistencies gives them the opportunity to learn to like different foods over time. They say that exposure helps kids develop healthy eating habits. I strongly believe this. Sometimes, the exposure model is a slow and frustrating one. But when they discover something new that they love, it warms my heart.
Catering to my own tastes, and the need for butternut squash not to be mushy, in this recipe I use butternut squash noodles. I happen to own a spiralizer–many home cooks do these days–and making almost any vegetable into a noodle takes seconds. But for those who don’t own a spiralizer, there are many stores out there that now sell pre-made butternut squash noodles in the vegetables section. I have seen them at Whole Foods and Safeway. Butternut squash noodles are a nice change to the old standard. Lightly blanched, the squash stays more al dente instead of losing its structure completely.
I paired well cooked butternut squash noodle with simple Fall flavors. A rich brown butter, parmesan and fresh thyme blend well together in this rustic, yet elegant side dish. This recipe would stand up well at a holiday meal and is not labor-intensive at all, making it even more appealing.
My boys tried this recipe the day I developed it, both liked it, especially the brown butter flavor. Neither chose to have more of it later with their dinner. But that’s okay. History has shown me that the next time I make it, they probably will.
Butternut Squash Noodles With Brown Butter, Parmesan And Thyme
- 1 package butternut squash noodles or 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and spiralized
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Step 1 To make the brown butter: Place the butter in a small stockpot and place over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally to help the butter cook evenly. Watch carefully, the butter will begin to foam shortly after it has melted. Color-wise, you will see it go from a bright lemon yellow to a more golden brown color, eventually to a toasted darker brown. Once it is approaching the darker brown color, you will also notice a nutty aroma, signaling to you that the butter is done.
- Step 2 Remove from the heat and pour the butter into a shatterproof bowl or glass jar to cool. Set aside.
- Step 3 Fill a medium-size stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash noodles and blanch for about 2-3 minutes until tender and cooked through. Drain in a colander and set aside.
- Step 4 Using a large mixing bowl, add the cooked butternut squash noodles. Add 1/4-1/2 of the brown butter, salt, Parmesan and thyme. Using a rubber spatula, gently toss to coat. Serve warm.