The butternut squash is a type of pumpkin or winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp with a compartment of seeds in the blossom end. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange and becomes sweeter and richer. It is a good source of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium; and it is a source of vitamin A.
Although botanically a fruit, the butternut squash is used culinarily as a vegetable that can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed for soups such as squash soup, or mashed to be used in casseroles, bread, muffins, and pies.
Pumpkins, squash and gourds are all grown in Belarus. Gourd is occasionally used to describe the crop plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, like pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, luffa, and melons.
More specifically, gourd refers to the fruits of plants in the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita, or also to their hollow, dried-out shell.
Belarus currently exports a range of squashes to Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Russia. These may be used to make traditional recipes including fritters, stews and kashas.
Kasha is one of the oldest known foods in Eastern European cuisine. It refers not only to buckwheat groats but to all porridge and gruel made from whole or ground grain. Kasha includes stews made from barley, millet, oats, semolina, wheat, rye, rice, lentils and more recently made from corn, potatoes, pumpkin and other vegetables.
Edited from The Belarusian Cookbook by Alex Bely.
Check out Michelle’s butternut squash recipes: