The Best Way To Cook Honeynut Squash

When it comes to cooking and baking with winter squash, everyone has their favorites. Often, butternut gets all the attention. Maybe you're excited to make some comforting butternut squash soup or add it to tacos, burritos, or a tasty risotto. There are countless recipes that include the nutritious orange fruit. But if you've never cooked honeynut squash before, maybe it's time to give butternut squash's smaller and sweeter offspring a shot.

Anything you typically use butternut squash for, you can substitute honeynut squash. But keep in mind, according to chef Dan Barber, it's "about ten times the sweetness and squash flavor of the workaday butternut" (via Saveur). For this reason, the best way to cook honeynut squash is to roast it, which will help coax its intense sweet caramel and nutty flavors to the surface.

The honeynut squash is easier to cut through compared to other kinds, which is also a plus. Just as you would any other squash, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and guts, and roast it in the oven. Because it's already so sweet, it doesn't need a lot of extra ingredients to make it the perfect dinner side dish. Perhaps a butter and cinnamon glaze, a walnut-brown sugar crumble, or candied pecans and herbs like sage are enough to dress the honeynut squash up after it's roasted, but don't go overboard: let the honeynut's natural sweetness and flavor shine through.

It's the only squash that changes color when it ripens

While roasting is the preferred method to cook a honeynut squash, there really is no wrong way. Mash it, chop it, and stuff it in pasta shells, the sweet squash can be used similarly to butternut squash.

Created by crossing a buttercup and butternut squash, the homeynut is distinct from other squash because it changes from green to orange, signaling that its flavor and nutritional value are at their highest, and ready to be eaten. "We're trying to help people have healthier diets," Michael Mazourek, the squash's creator, told the Cornell Chronicle. "Usually when we have people do the taste test, they say they've never had squash like this before — what's the secret? Well, it's cooked right, and it's ripe." 

Because of its tiny stature, one honeynut squash feeds just one to two people. Half of a honeynut squash contains approximately 114 calories, four grams of fiber, two grams of protein, and four grams of fat. It's also packed with nutrition, containing potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C, and a whopping 379% of your daily value in vitamin A. Honeynut squash is available between September and December and is slowly showing up in more places, but is still kind of a unicorn. If you see one, it's definitely something that you want to scoop up before it's gone.