Sara Tane

Seriously addictive.

If there is one produce item that I can totally justify buying peeled and pre-cut, it’s definitely a butternut squash. With its tough skin and hard fibers, getting a whole butternut squash prepped into pretty, fully-peeled, and perfectly-even cubes is no small task. Sure, you definitely can, but but on some days, it’s just easier to skip those cumbersome steps. On a recent trip to the produce aisle in Trader Joe’s, I was looking for the bags of pre-chopped butternut squash when I discovered something particularly interesting right next to them on the shelf: Butternut Squash Zig-Zags.

With a similar look to the classic, crinkle cut fries that you might find in the freezer aisle, these intricately-cut, fresh butternut squash pieces are without a doubt the best way to eat vegetables. The ridges provide a fun, unique textural experience that could sway even the most adamant veggie-hater. Plus, they come fully cleaned and prepped, so if you’re going to go ahead and buy pre-chopped butternut squash (which, TBH, is a huge timesaver), then why not go for something a little out there?! Plus, at $3.49 per 12-oz. bag, what do you have to lose? The zags are cute, completely unassuming, and a great way to get a vegetable loathing-kid to show some love to squash (who knew, right?). Sure, they might not be as mouth-watering delicious as the real-deal crinkle cut french fries, but you'll definitely feel way better about eating these.

These babies come “ready to cook” (as in, don’t eat these raw, silly), which in my mind, is a positive attribute because it still feels like you had to do some work to get dinner on the table.* To cook the zig-zags, simply crank up your oven to 400°, give the pieces a generous toss in extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let them roast until they’re golden brown and crispy (rotating and stirring around throughout), about 30-35 minutes.

If you like, you can play around with the spices even further, by adding in paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, aleppo pepper, or even cinnamon. However you choose to spice these, do not leave behind those crackly bits on your sheet pan—they’re the best part. From there, add them to a snack board, serve them alongside a hearty protein to complete dinner, toss them in a salad, or drop them in a brothy soup. Congratulations, you’re absolutely winning at the gourd-loving lifestyle.

*Not to say that there is anything objectively wrong with the wealth of pre-made dinners available at Trader Joe’s.

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