Market Watch: Early Butternut Squash, and a Butternut Squash Focaccia Recipe

Typically winter squash isn’t ready until mid-October, but I get to enjoy it extra early since I grow this special variety in my garden.

While it’s too late now to plant it in your garden, put these seeds on your list for next year. Be on the lookout for it at the local farmers’ market too, its name is simple to remember, it's actually called Early Butternut Squash. The sweet and tender squash will be ready to eat as early as August and the plant will keep producing through October. Make soup, add roasted chunks to pasta or make this crowd-pleasing foccacia recipe.

Roasted Butternut Squash Focaccia

Serves 10
For the dough:
1 package dry active yeast
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the topping:
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add ½ cup flour – stir and cover with a clean towel, allow resting for 20-25 minutes.

Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add remaining flour. Continue to mix for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth.

Transfer dough to an oiled bowl (turn to coat) – cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

For the topping. Preheat oven to 425-degrees F. Place butternut squash on a baking sheet, season with another tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary – toss well and roast for 25 minutes, turning once. Remove squash from the oven and toss with red pepper and lemon zest. Set aside. (Topping can be prepared a day in advance.)

Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, transfer to a well-oiled baking sheet (or shallow baking dish), brush with remaining olive oil and allow to rise for 25-30 minutes.

Set oven to 375-degrees F. Evenly distribute butternut squash topping and press it gently into the dough. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and bake for 25 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with Parmesan cheese; allow to cool for 15 minutes. Slice into large squares or triangles and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Info Per Serving:
Calories: 264
Total Fat: 14 grams
Saturated Fat: 3 grams
Total Carbohydrate:  30 grams
Sugars: 4 grams
Protein:  7 grams
Sodium:  205 milligrams
Cholesterol:  11 milligrams
Fiber:  1 gram
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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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