There’s an uber cute winter squash taking the Instagram world by storm, and it’s pint-sized perfection. The honeynut squash, a butternut squash hybrid, not only fits in the palm of your hand, but is way easier (and sweeter) to cook than its cousin.
Here’s everything you need to know about the cutest winter squash around.
Honeynut Squash 101
The honeynut resembles a butternut squash in shape, but is noticeably smaller. Honeynuts are typically four to five inches in length, while butternut squash are 10 to 11 inches.
Honeynut squash start off a deep green color and turn caramel color as they ripen. Look for caramel colored squash at the farmers market or grocery store, which tend to be the sweetest.
The honeynut squash is a relatively new winter squash hybrid. Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York and author of “The Third Plate,” worked with Michael Mazourek, a plant breeder at Cornell University, to produce the squash.
“Together, we’ve collaborated on a number of experimental varieties, including the Honeynut squash, a butternut squash cross that fits in the palm of your hand and has about ten times the sweetness and squash flavor of the workaday butternut.”
Using unique selection in the field and organic cross-pollination methods, Mazourek was able to produce and grow the honeynut squash.
Farmers across the country are now growing honeynut squash, at first with some apprehension. “I was worried about their diminutive size,” says Massachusetts’s farmer, Simon Athearn. “I kept being afraid people wouldn’t want such a small thing.” Now, he’s concerned about being able to keep up with their high demand.
Honeynut Squash Health Benefits
Like a nutrient-packed butternut squash, honeynut squash are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Mazourek notes that the vitamins of honeynut are concentrated, so the honeynut has roughly twice the amount of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor, than regular butternut.
They’re also a good source of vitamin C and E, potassium, magnesium, manganese, folate, calcium, iron, and B vitamins.
Honeynut squash also contain carotenoids, fat-soluble antioxidants that function to reduce oxidative stress in the body. Eat honeynuts with a bit of healthy fats, like coconut oil or avocado oil, to reap the benefits of these petit powerhouses.
How to Cook Honeynut Squash
Just like other winter squash, honeynut squash are delicious when roasted.
Cut honeynut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the squash with a high-heat oil of choice (avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil, etc.), sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and roast for thirty minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Feel free to stuff the center of the squash with grains, cooked proteins, vegetables, and even peanut butter and granola.
Alternatively, cube the squash before roasting. Add roasted squash to salads, grain dishes, soup, and so much more.
Mazourek notes that the skin of the honeynut is similar to a delicata, which means that it’s edible as well. Could this pint-sized squash get any better?