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Learn to Cook: Winter Squash

By Kate Rowe, January 12, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Kate Rowe

Hard winter squash can be intimidating, but they are actually very simple to prepare as well as satisfying, nutritious and affordable!

Butternut squash, for example, delivers healthy carbohydrates, vitamins A and C plus potassium.

We’ll share two recipes here to get you started with winter squash.

Roasted Butternut Squash

This basic recipe brings out the best in winter squash: little bites delightfully caramelized outside and creamy inside.

Serve straight from the oven as a side dish or use in soup, tacos, enchiladas, pasta and salad.

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds.

If desired, peel with a vegetable peeler or cut into big chunks and keep steady on the cutting board while cutting off the peel with a knife. You can also place a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to help stabilize when cutting the squash.

Cut into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer.

Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash makes an excellent side dish or a fun substitute in thin noodle recipes, from Asian to Italian.

It is loaded with nutrients, such as beta carotene and fiber, and is tender, with just a slight crunch.

1 (about 3 1/2 pounds) spaghetti squash

Preheat oven to 375°F and halve squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds from the middle of each half.

Arrange squash in a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish, cut sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Rake a fork back and forth across the squash to remove its flesh in strands…like spaghetti!

Hungry for More?

Once you know how to roast a spaghetti squash or butternut squash, you can give these dishes a try:

  Selecting and Storing

Choose winter squash that are firm, heavy for their size, and that have hard, tough skin with no cuts, punctures, sunken spots or mold. A tender rind indicates immaturity, which is undesirable in spaghetti squash and other types of winter squash. Winter squash can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place for a month or more. After cutting, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate.  

How do you like to serve winter squash?

 

9 Comments

Comments

Carol Borchert says ...
To get amazing-tasting winter squash, the best way to cook it is whole. No need to peel, or cut yourself trying to cube, or struggle with your chef's knife to cut the squash in half without cutting off your fingers. This is so easy and good, you'll wonder why you haven't always cooked your squash this way. Take your whole squash, put it in a baking dish, and place in the oven at 350 degrees. Delicata takes about 45 minutes; kabocha, acorn, spaghetti, and butternut take 60-75 minutes depending on size. Don't pierce the skin with a fork, just let it cook whole. The squash stays moist, the flavor is richer (and don't worry, the squash won't explode). I usually buy three or four different types of squash, put them in the oven, take them out and let them cool, cut them down the middle (so easy after they've baked), scoop out the seeds, then scrape out the flesh. Store in the refrigerator or freezer, or use right away with some maple syrup or to use in recipes. So easy!
01/19/2012 10:06:28 AM CST
Dana says ...
I have been on an "adventure" since January 1 to eat fresh, local and in season so I am playing with squash, winter melons, etc. I have found that if its really difficult to cut, I can stab it a few times and then bake it whole (350 for at least 1/2 hour) and it becomes much easier to work with. My last experiment was globe squash that later became the filling to my burrito (with the chili verde). Totally yummy! http://fresnosfabulous52.blogspot.com/2012/01/globe-squash-turnips-and-mexican.html?spref=tw
01/23/2012 12:11:00 PM CST
Dave Beaulieu says ...
I just tried a new twist on a pretty traditional Butternut Squash soup...adding coconut milk and curry powder. It was absolutely delish. Check it out here: http://www.noreciperequired.com/recipe/coconut-curry-butternut-squash-soup
01/21/2012 5:12:23 PM CST
Janie says ...
I love squash, however it's very hard for me to cut. Sometimes I see it cut up in Produce area, but it's not the kind I want. I wonder if others don't buy it because of that reason.
01/12/2012 12:16:54 PM CST
Aida says ...
Butternut squash even my kids enjoy. Cut squash in half from stem to bulb, (no peeling required) remove seeds, season with salt & pepper, baste cut side with melted butter to keep it from sticking to baking sheet. Place cut side down and bake until done. Flip over /cut side up and spread sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese melts and lightly brown. Cut to serving sizes and enjoy!
01/19/2012 11:51:57 AM CST
Victoria says ...
Suggestion to Janie about cutting squash: I find hard winter squash and specialty pumpkin easier to work with for recipes if you steam or roast it first. You can steam or roast it until it's tender enough to easily peel away the outer skin and cut into smaller cubes to use in a recipe. Take a heavy, sharp knife and cut the squash in half or a large pumpkin, cut into wedges, scoop out the seeds. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet or pan in 350 degree oven 30 - 60 min, checking periodically until you can easily pierce it with a fork. To steam: place squash halves or pumpkin wedges in a vegetable steamer basket in a large pan filled with an inch or so of water, cover, bring to a boil and steam 20-30 min until tender. I'd love to know if other's have any suggestions for more easily working with hard winter squash? Winter squash is so delicious, good for you and really versatile - works in a lot of dishes.
01/13/2012 8:08:43 AM CST
david says ...
Just made the squash and put it in a taco...best idea ever. Texture is a huge deal when making fish tacos and it's difficult to find alternatives. Thanks!
02/07/2012 11:01:13 PM CST
mal says ...
how do you cook DELICATA SQUASH?????
09/24/2012 3:20:27 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MAL - I was able to find this site that was helpful with the variations that the delicata squash could be cooked (http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-term/t--35479/delicata-squash.asp). Let us know how your squash dish turns out!
09/24/2012 4:52:11 PM CDT