When fall comes around, so do the winter squash—and we’re constantly cooking with them. You’re probably very familiar with butternut squash, acorn squash and even delicata squash. But there’s a new squash making its way into grocery stores across the country, and it’s super delicious and super cute. Well, it has to be with a name like Honeynut squash!
What is Honeynut squash?
The Honeynut squash is the result of a collaboration between Michael Mazourek, an associate professor in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University, and Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of the iconic Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York—remember him from Volume 1 of Chef’s Table? This collaboration, which started out as a friendly challenge, resulted in a smaller version of the butternut squash with a more tempting flavor.
But what does it taste like?
Since this squash was bred specifically for its flavor, it has to be good, right? We think so! The Honeynut squash is much more flavorful than its larger cousin. It’s often described as sweet and nutty. Besides being packed with more flavor than traditional butternut squash, the tiny Honeynut squash has more nutrients; it’s estimated that a single serving has twice the beta-carotene of an equal amount of butternut squash. The Honeynut is also a good source of vitamin A.
How to pick the perfect Honeynut squash
As they are growing, Honeynut squash are zucchini-green. However, one of the traits that was bred into these squash was the ability to change color when they are ripe. A combination of sunlight, temperature and other factors causes the squash to change from green to orange when they are ready to be picked. When choosing a Honeynut squash to purchase, look for one that has the least amount of green. These squash can be stored for several months, although they should be eaten as soon as possible once they begin to wrinkle, as this means the squash are beginning to dry out.
How to cook with Honeynut squash
The best way to prepare a Honeynut squash is to roast it. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves cut-side up on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 400ºF for 20 minutes.
The Honeynut squash’s skin is thin like that of a delicata squash and is completely edible. This veggie can also be used as a substitute for butternut squash in most recipes, such as this one for roasted butternut squash soup. But you needn’t stop with butternut squash recipes; Honeynut squash would also sub well in most recipes that call for winter squash.
Where can you find it?
Honeynut squash are harvested beginning in late September through early October. You can find these diminutive squash at your local farmers market, or at retailers such as Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Meal kit services, such as Blue Apron, are also incorporating these flavorful vegetables into their recipes.
Can’t find Honeynut? Here’s how to pick the perfect butternut squash.