butternut squash

Fall for Butternut Squash

High in fiber, low in fat, and packed with heart-healthy nutrients, butternut squash is so good and good for you. Get the best flavor with these prep tips.

“The best thing about butternut squash,” says Panera Bread® Food Team member John Taylor, “is its versatility. You can steam it, roast it, puree it, mash it, or grill it. It works in soup and salad, as a side, or even as a main-course ingredient.”

Though you can find butternut squash in most grocery stores year-round, it’s sweetest and at its best flavor right after the late-fall harvest. And don’t be fooled by its pale exterior—the bright-orange flesh of this squash is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C and a good source of potassium and vitamin B6. “It’s nutritionally strong—a great addition to any meal,” says John. 

So it’s no surprise that Panera has welcomed this superfood into a soup, Autumn Squash. Made with a rich blend of butternut squash and pumpkin, this seasonal soup is simmered in vegetable broth with honey, apple juice, cinnamon, and a hint of curry and finished with sweet cream and a topping of roasted pumpkin seeds. “It pairs perfectly with our Roasted Turkey Harvest Wheatberry Salad,” says John.

If you’ve never cooked butternut squash at home, you may be surprised to hear how simple it is to prepare. Peel the outer skin with a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, chop or slice the flesh, and steam or roast it in a hot oven until tender. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper and enjoy! Or try some of these other ways to use cooked butternut squash.

  • Mash the squash and sweeten it with a bit of maple syrup and butter, or puree it with a creamy cheese for a taste that rivals mashed potatoes.
  • Puree and add it to soup, dip, risotto, or even ice cream.
  • Sauté chopped squash with pasta or bake it into a pasta casserole—try macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or ravioli. Or add it to chili or beef stew.
  • Arrange slices on top of a pizza crust; then sprinkle with herbs and olive oil and bake.
  • Serve cooled slices in a composed salad. Here’s a recipe to try.

Roasted Squash Salad


1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup torn radicchio
¼ cup feta crumbles
3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Heat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil. 
  2. Place the squash slices on the baking sheet and coat them with cooking spray. Broil them 5 inches from the heat source until golden brown then turn to brown other side, about 9 minutes. Let cool. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, oil, honey, and mustard. Add the spinach, radicchio, feta, and pumpkin seeds to the dressing and toss well.
  4. To compose the salad, stack the dressed greens between squash slices on four plates. 

Servings: 4

NUTRITIONAL INFO (per serving): 143 calories, 4 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 211 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber