Honeynut squash are one of my favorite hybrid winter squash to hit the market recently. Petite sized but packed with sweet flavor, they’re perfect for roasting and stuffing with this quick and easy fall inspired filling.
Just like buttercup squash, I think I first stumbled upon honeynut squash in Trader Joe’s of all places.
Famous for cauliflower gnocchi and now winter squash, go figure.
At first I thought honeynut was just a mini butternut squash.
And while many do describe it as that, honeynut squash is it’s own variety. And very deserving of it.
WHAT IS HONEYNUT SQUASH?
Honeynut is a newer type of hybrid squash.
It’s another genius creation that Dan Barber has a hand in (just like koginut squash) in a quest to create the most delicious tasting food for his produce-heavy famous restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Honeynut is technically a breed between butternut and buttercup squash.
While its looks more similarly resemble butternut, its taste is a different story.
WHAT DOES HONEYNUT SQUASH TASTE LIKE?
Created and bred specifically for its flavor, you won’t be disappointed with the sweet and nutty taste of a honeynut squash.
It definitely leans more in the buttercup direction when it comes to flavor than butternut.
Its texture is also quite a bit smoother than butternut making it great for mashing or using in this twice baked and stuffed method.
The squash was actually bred to be roasted, a cooking method that allows its flavors and texture to shine.
So, that’s exactly what we’re doing today with this stuffed honeynut squash recipe.
The incredibly deep orange color of the flesh is a sign of the high levels of beta carotene in the squash (said to be about twice that of butternut squash), one of its many nutritional components.
Like most winter squash, honeynut is also a good source of vitamin A. It’s a healthy little thing!
HOW IS HONEYNUT DIFFERENT THAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH?
Besides its deeper flavor profile, honeynut squash has a few other upper hands versus its predecessor:
- Honeynut does not need to be peeled. The skin is thin and edible! Just like delicata squash.
- It’s much easier (and safer) to cut through because of its smaller size.
- It cooks faster!
INGREDIENTS FOR ROASTED STUFFED HONEYNUT SQUASH
To roast the honeynut squash:
- 1 large (about 1.5 pounds) or 2 small (3/4 pound or smaller) honeynut squash
- heavy duty sheet pan
- cooking spray
To stuff the roasted honeynut squash:
- ground meat (I used elk here after making some elk burgers and having some leftover but beef, bison, turkey, chicken or even venison will work – take your pick!)
- extra virgin olive oil
- yellow onion
- salt and pepper
- chopped pecans
HOW TO ROAST HONEYNUT SQUASH
Before stuffing, the squash needs to be roasted.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Save them to make roasted squash seeds!
Place the squash flesh side down on a heavy duty sheet pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray (use an avocado or extra virgin olive oil spray).
Roast for about 25 minutes until flesh is fork tender and edges of the squash are starting to turn golden brown and shrivel a bit.
Don’t over roast the squash to the point of mush or it will be hard to keep its shape in order to stuff!
Once it’s roasted, remove from the oven and let cool until you can safely handle it.
MAKE THE STUFFING FOR THE SQUASH
To make the stuffing, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the ground meat of choice in the pan, breaking up with a spatula.
If there’s excess water in the pan, drain it then return to the stove with the meat still in the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the olive oil, onion, celery and garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the apples and rosemary to the skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
STUFF AND ROAST THE HONEYNUT SQUASH
Scoop out the flesh from each half of the honeynut squash and place in a large mixing bowl.
Leave enough of the squash intact around the perimeter so that it can maintain its shape upright as a “bowl”.
Add the filling from the skillet to the mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. Season again with salt and pepper as necessary.
Spoon the mixture back into the hollowed out squash and top with the chopped pecans.
Return the stuffed honeynut squash on the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes until heated through.
Garnish with any additional fresh chopped rosemary and serve warm.
WHERE TO FIND HONEYNUT SQUASH
As a relatively new to market (it’s only been around a few years now) winter squash, you can surprisingly find honeynut at most local markets when it’s in season.
The season for harvesting honeynut usually starts in early September but you can sometimes find it sooner in mid-late August (like I did for this recipe).
Markets like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s even big box stores like Costco will have honeynut and I’ve even seen it now in more conventional grocery stores like Shoprite and Hannaford near me.
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY HONEYNUT SQUASH
If you don’t want to make a meal of it with this stuffed honeynut recipe, you can always simply roast the squash just like this roasted buttercup squash or roasted sweet dumpling squash – the maple dijon tahini sauce with that recipe would be delicious with honeynut as well!
Another option is making soup out of it!
You could even add some roasted honeynut squash to this creamy root vegetable soup for some depth of flavor. It’d make it a pretty orange color too!
IS HONEYNUT SQUASH GMO?
One misconception out there when people hear about “new” varieties or cross-breeding is that the result is a GMO product.
That’s not the case with honeynut squash. It is a non-GMO crop.
High mowing seeds describes the process here for more information on the creation of honeynut squash.
For more general information on winter squash of all kinds, check out my guide to winter squash which includes information on how best to store squash, select them at the market and more including a plethora of winter squash recipes.
That guide was actually written before honeynut squash even existed but all the information can be applied to the squash as well.
One unique feature of honeynut is actually its built in notification feature of when it’s ready to be picked.
The squash grows as a bright green color then turns orange when it’s ready to be harvested. When selecting honeynut at the store, choose one with the least amount of green (if any at all).
Honeynut can be stored for months in a cool dry place but it’s best eaten as soon as possible for the most flavorful outcome.
MORE WINTER SQUASH RECIPES TO TRY:
- 1 large (or 2 smaller) honeynut squash, halved and seeded
- 1/2 pound ground elk (or meat of choice such as beef, bison, venison, turkey, chicken, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 large sweet/tart apple, chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a heavy duty baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the halved and seeded honeynut squash flesh side down on the baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes until flesh is fork tender and skin has started to turn golden brown around the edges.
- While honeynut squash roasts, prepare the filling by placing a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the ground meat and cook until browned, breaking into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks.
- Drain any excess water from the meat (this will depend which kind of meat is used) if necessary and return the skillet with the meat to the stove. Reduce heat to medium.
- Add the olive oil, onion, celery and garlic to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook for about 5 minutes until onions and celery start to soften.
- Add the chopped apples and rosemary and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When squash is roasted, remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Scoop some of the flesh out of the squash and place in a large bowl, leaving enough squash intact around the perimeter to maintain the shape.
- Add the ground meat mixture to the bowl with the scooped honeynut squash and mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the filling back into the squash halves. Top with the chopped pecans and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes until warmed through.
- Garnish with any leftover chopped rosemary and serve warm.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 141mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 17g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.