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Kids Club Vol. 47: Butternut Squash



Welcome to the latest issue of our ChopChop Kids Club newsletter!

This month we’re cooking with butternut squash. Not that we like to play favorites, but, well, it’s our favorite winter squash. Do you like winter squash? It’s the sweet kind, with the tough skin and the edible seeds. It’s called “winter” not because it grows in the winter, but because it keeps well, so you can eat it all winter long. We’ve got recipes and tips, and also some ideas for fun and food for thought. Yes the days are getting colder, but cooking will keep you warm.

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Squashy Chili

squashy chili beauty

Squashy Chili

Chili can be spicy, but this recipe is mild. If you really want to go for the burn, try adding fresh or dried chiles.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 Servings

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Strainer or colander
  • Large heavy-bottomed soup pot with a lid
  • Large spoon
  • Pot holders


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cups diced* butternut squash
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you like spicy)
  • 1⁄4 to ½ teaspoon cayenne (if you like spicy)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, including the juice
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini, diced*


  • Put the pot on the stove, turn the heat to low, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, butternut squash, chili powder, oregano, and cumin (and red pepper flakes and cayenne, if using). Cook until the onion is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. If it looks dry, add a little of the water.
  • Add the beans and tomatoes, cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the zucchini and cook, uncovered, for 30 more minutes. Serve right away or set aside to cool, then transfer to a container and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 2 months.


*Diced veggies are cut into small pieces about the size of dice. But let your adult cut the butternut squash. It's very hard! 
EXTRAS to add (if you like):
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1⁄4 lemon, for squeezing

Kitchen Skill: Peel, Seed, and Cube a Butternut Squash

Butternut squash has very tough skin and firm flesh. This makes it tricky to peel and cut, so preparing a butternut squash is a job for an adult—but you can help with the parts you can handle!

  1. Put the squash on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to trim off the top (stem) end and bottom of the squash.
  2. Use a very sharp vegetable peeler to peel off all the skin from the squash, including the green layer just beneath the skin.
  3. Cut the squash in half just where it starts to bulge. The skinny top part will be solid all the way through; the bottom part will be hollow and contain seeds.
  4. Cut the bottom part in half and use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds and stringy parts (this is a good job for a kid). You can rinse these in a colander if you want to roast them (see below), or else throw them away.
  5. Cut all the peeled, seeded squash into cubes.

*If you prefer, you can buy already peeled, cubed butternut squash in a package from the store.

Try This Now: Roast Squash Seeds

You can roast butternut squash seeds just like pumpkin seeds! Simply rinse and dry them on a double layer of paper towels, then toss them with 1 teaspoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread out the oiled seeds on a small baking sheet and put it in an oven set to 325 degrees. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Season with a sprinkle of curry powder or another favorite spice blend—or eat them as is.

If you harvest winter squash when they’re still young and tender, before the seeds and skin toughen, you can cook and eat them like you would zucchini and yellow squash—they’re not really botanically different. Would you call them summer squash in that case? It’s up to you.

Guessing Game

After an adult cuts your squash in half, look at the part where the seeds are. This is called the cavity of the squash.

  1. Estimate how many seeds there are. This means make your best guess.
  2. Count the seeds to see how close you were. (If you don’t want to count all the seeds in both halves, what’s something else you could do?)
  3. Subtract the lower number from the higher one to see how many seeds you were off by.

If you don’t have a squash but want to try estimating, use a jar of pennies or buttons or a cupful of uncooked pasta shapes or dried beans.

Edible Vocabulary

The English noun squash, referring to the edible gourd, comes from the native Narragansett word askutasquash, which means “the things that may be eaten raw”
(even though we don’t usually eat winter squash raw).

(The verb squash—when you crush and squeeze something—has a different root,
even though it’s the same English word. It comes from the Latin quassare, meaning
“to shatter.”)

Got More Squash? Try One of These Recipes

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Any-Vegetable Minestrone
Indian Vegetable Curry
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
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