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Squash: A Farm Chef's Journey
Right Food for the Season - Late Fall
Written by Chef Todd Heberlein   
To be honest, I had never encountered, let alone tasted, a “Winter squash” until I was in my twenties. When I was growing up, we only ate canned or frozen vegetables. No crime there. I’m sure many could say the same – but ironically, I lived in rural New Jersey, surrounded by farms – yet I didn’t know a garlic bulb from a light bulb.

But things are different now that I’m all grown up – living and working in Massachusetts. Not only have I become a chef, but a chef at Wilson Farm – a family-run farm known for wonderful homegrown vegetables for over 125 years. Today I have a great respect for all squashes and pumpkins. Each variety has its own unique character and flavor and is a vital part to so many delicious Fall and Winter dishes. So in this series, I hope to discuss those distinctions and share with you some of my recipes.

Let’s start with the workhorse of the squash family, the Butternut. By far, Butternut is the most well known of the squashes. And for good reason. It is usually the first squash to appear for the season and often outlasts all the others. Its orange flesh is vibrantly beautiful and tastes truly wonderful. If you’re new to squash, Butternut is a great place to start. Of the Winter squashes, it has the easiest skin to peel, yielding easily to most heavy-duty peelers. That being said, pre-peeled Butternut is readily available at the farm during the season – should you wish to skip that step.

Butternut squash can be roasted, steamed or sautéed in a number of different recipes. Your options are unlimited. I’d love for you to try the very simple preparation below. Once you’ve tasted fresh, locally-grown Butternut squash, I’m sure you’ll be eager to take on some of its more challenging cousins.


Basic Butternut Squash

Serves 8
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. of peeled Butternut squash (from Wilson Farm of course)
3 tablespoons of butter
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

Cut the Butternut squash into chunks and cook in boiling, salted water or steam. Remove Butternut when tender. Drain thoroughly in a colander. Return the hot squash to the pan and add the butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Whip together with an electric mixer or mash by hand until smooth. Enjoy.

– Next in the series: Delicata and Acorn Squash
Wilson Farm is open year-round, and is a multiple “Best of Boston” winner (now a “Classic” recipient). They have impeccable, locally grown produce, house baked bread and sweets, freshly prepared take home meals, their own hen house eggs, top quality meat and seafood, dairy and cheeses from New England, beautiful cut flowers, and a huge selection of lush garden and indoor plants. For 126 years, Wilson Farm has been at 10 Pleasant Street in Lexington, Massachusetts. For more information visit www.wilsonfarm.com

Photo credits:


Chef Todd Heberlein photo: The Two Palaverers

Butternut squash photo: Jane Ward 




  1. I usually buy a whole butternut squash, but oddly enough, when I saw the peeled and halved butternut squash at Wilson Farm, I bough that. So much easier! Roasted it with some of those adorable baby brussels sprouts there too!
  2. Yum. I usually roast my squash and then scoop out the flesh from the skin, I find it so much easier! Maybe it's because my peeler isn't quite heavy-duty enough...But I do love the added flavor from roasting first.

    I do have a question, Chef--how on earth do you tell when a squash is past its prime?


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