Cooking Winter Squash

Winter squash is a seasonal, nutritious, and delicious vegetable to add to your dinner repertoire. Season’s favorite winter squashes are acorn squash, delicata squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash. In our opinion, these are the most accessible, versatile, and tasty of the bunch. The important thing to note is that they are all different and can be a little tricky to decode if you’re not a squash connoisseur. That’s where we come in!

Tip 1: Cut to the chase

If you bought whole winter squash at the store and brought it home to then realize you can’t even cut it open – we’ve been there, and this tip is for you. Using the tines of a fork, prick the squash all over and then place it in the microwave for 2-5 minutes (depending on the size of the squash), until it has become just slightly tender. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then have at it with your knife. If you’re still having trouble, try putting it back in the microwave for a few more minutes.

Tip 2: Don’t waste the seeds

If you enjoy eating pumpkin seeds, you should give other squash seeds a try. After scooping seeds from a butternut or acorn squash, rinse them and separate the squash seeds from the other stringy parts of the squash. Pat the seeds dry, discarding the stringy bits. Toss seeds with a bit of olive oil and any desired spices (chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, and cumin are some of our favorites). Roast in a 300°F oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and beginning to pop.

Tip 3: To eat the skins or not?

Technically all squash skin is edible, but some are going to be way tougher to digest (and chew, and enjoy) than others. We always eat the skin on acorn and delicata squash because it gets tender pretty quickly (and has tons of fiber!). We do recommend removing the skin from butternut squash though, because that will really never get soft and delicious. And, of course, you should always discard the spaghetti squash skin after scraping out all of the yummy squash strands

Tip 4: Foolproof squash

First thing, if you want to knock out tips 1, 2, and 3 – just go for pre-cut squash. It’s usually in the refrigerator section (sometimes freezer), and is of course super easy to throw in the oven, in a soup, or a bowl of pasta. As for cooking techniques; acorn, delicata, and butternut are sweet and starchy, so roasting at a high temperature (425°F) with a bit of fat (olive oil, coconut oil, butter) will give you a nice golden brown and caramelized product. Spaghetti squash is best when roasted for a longer period of time at a slightly lower temperature, to allow for all of the squash strands to become tender.

No matter how you slice it, winter squash can be a lot more intimidating than it actually is. Enjoy them all winter long in some of Season’s many squash-centric recipes, like Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Toast. 

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