CSA Cooking: Butternut Squash Croutons

butternut squash cubes

Since a very young age, I’ve been a fiend for croutons. They weren’t something my mother kept in the house, but my maternal grandmother often had a box tucked into her kitchen cabinets. When we visited, my sister would head straight for the stash of chocolate mints in the bar, while I would quietly abscond with the croutons. I’d tuck myself into a corner with a book and my box of oily bread cubes and be perfectly content until discovered with the empty box.

In my early twenties, my favorite potluck trick was to bring a salad with homemade croutons. The salad could be entirely ordinary because no one was looking at the greens. They were focused on those craggy, garlicky cubes of deeply toasted bread.

roasted butternut cubes

My love for croutons remains, but in recent years I’ve found that I feel better when I don’t eat a lot of bready things. I know that there are many others of you who are in this same boat. Instead of giving up croutons entirely, I’ve taken to giving other food the crouton treatment.

A favorite for crouton transformation this time of year is the butternut squash. I peel, deseed, and chop the squash into cubes the size of regular six-sided dice. They are tossed with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, laid out in a single layer and roasted until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

While they don’t have the shattering crunch of a bread-based crouton, they are quite delicious in a salad of baby arugula, slivered red onion, and feta cheese.

Do you give anything other than bread the crouton treatment?

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10 Responses to CSA Cooking: Butternut Squash Croutons

  1. 1
    mignyc says:

    I give bacon, cubes of pork belly, and prosciutto the crouton treatment.

  2. 2
    Bad Mommy says:

    I cook cauliflower like that all the time – but seldom put it on salad afterwards. I do toast almonds in a little garlic butter, though, and those are the BOMB on salad. You might also try some savory cereal preparations, depending on whether you are trying to low-carb or trying to go gluten free. We make this thing where I’m from called “Texas Trash.” It’s several cereals and nuts and pretzel sticks and stuff roasted in worchestershire sauce and bacon grease. Not exactly a low-cal wonder, but it is SO tasty and salty and a little spicy and good. Anyway, it can be made with whatever you have on hand: ie, you could start with rice chex or something and give that the crouton treatment. Texas Trashed rice chex would be incredible on salad. With an avocado and some bacon bits.

  3. 3
    Janet says:

    Well, this may come as s shock, but lately I’ve been doing this to APPLES. It’s tasty. And it uses apples. Love the crouton story. Love this post!

  4. 4
    Louise says:

    Sounds good. I’m going to recommend it to my friends. I’ll let you know how it comes out.
    Cheers!
    Louise
    To plant a garden is to believe in the future

  5. 5
    Mili says:

    Hello,
    In our family we’ve found our children will eat almost any vegetable when it’s been given the described crouton treatment. Root veggies and winter squash are best, but we also cook green beans, summer squash, cruciferous veggies, asparagus, and even heartier greens like bok choy that way. I too love savory apples, and especially like to saute them in a pan with breakfast style sausage.
    Happy fall!

  6. 6
    efrompdx says:

    We cook butternut squash like this all the time, but haven’t thought to put it on a salad. For us, it’s the substitute for a starchy side.

  7. 7

    One of my kitchen mantras is that everything is better roasted! We adore homemade croutons, but I also make roasted chickpeas for salads (and a packed-lunch protein!) and toast sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

  8. 8

    […] ► THESE butternut squash croutons over an arugula salad with goat cheese and walnuts… yuuum. […]

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