Squash comes in many different varieties. With a little effort, the colorful vegetable can be such a delicious and nutritious addition to your fall and winter menus.
If they seem intimidating, don’t worry! We’re here to provide guidance and inspiration on prepping three different types with confidence. The key is having a good cutting board and a sharp knife.
Many grocery stores do offer already peeled and cubed squash in the produce department. It’s a great time-saving hack if you’re willing and/or able to pay a bit more. It’s an especially convenient option on busy family nights.
With the following tips, we hope you’ll commit to trying at least one new squash variety over the winter months. They’re flavorful, versatile, and so good for you!
This is probably the easiest squash to prepare because the skin is edible after roasting. It becomes tender, delicious, and extra nutritious. You’ll want to pick one that’s an equal balance of both green and orange, so it is neither too ripe nor not ripe enough. Look for a squash that is heavy for its size and dull (not shiny).
The next step is to cut the acorn squash. Slice off about ¼ inch from the top and bottom. This will create a stable, flat base for you to safely chop it in half vertically. If your knife gets stuck, return to the starting point, and rotate in the opposite direction. Once divided, scoop and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits.
The most common and flavorful way to cook acorn squash is in the oven. The dry heat caramelizes the natural sugars to elevate its sweet, nutty flavor. Drizzle or brush avocado or olive oil on the entire surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 45 to 60 minutes until the flesh is golden brown.
Remember, it’s always better to overcook than undercook the squash. You can keep it simple by serving it with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper. The cooked flesh can also be scooped out, mashed, and used in baked goods—like muffins.
This is likely the most common squash you’ll find at the store. You’ll want to pick one that is heavy for its size. Surface scratches and imperfections are normal but avoid any with deep cuts or soft spots.
Butternut squash is also great roasted. To prepare, first cut the top and bottom off (approximately ¼ inch of each). Once you’ve done that, you can more easily slice it in half lengthwise. Then scrape out the seeds and stringy material, similar to how you’d clean out a pumpkin. Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Brush it with butter or oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and (if desired) brown sugar too. Roast it for 45 minutes or until tender at 375 degrees.
Allow it to cool and then scoop the flesh from the skin and enjoy plain or in your favorite recipe.
This is a fun squash to serve because once cooked, the inside will pull apart in long, spaghetti-like strands. It’s a popular noodle swap to bump up the nutritional value of your favorite pasta dishes!
To pick your spaghetti squash, find a firm, dry rind that doesn’t have any soft spots or cracks. Choose a heavy squash for its size and look for a rind without shine.
To make cutting it easier, pre-cook it in the microwave so it begins to soften. You’ll need to score the squash where you plan to cut it in half later (think of it as a dotted line). Cuts should be 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep from stem to bottom. Next, poke the squash in several places using a paring knife to allow steam to release. Place it in a microwave-safe dish whole and cook for 5 minutes on high.
Once done, remove it and cut it in half with a sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and then finish cooking it upside down in a baking dish. Add about an inch of water and continue to microwave it for another 5 to 10 minutes. Scoop it out and try it with spaghetti sauce and some melted mozzarella cheese.
Feeling inspired yet? Be sure to tell us your favorite squash recipe!