Yesterday I popped into the market for a few items and was stopped in my tracks by the display of winter squash. To me that means autumn is officially here! It’s time to make pumpkin bread, butternut squash soup and maybe even Kabocha squash risotto. There are dozens of colorful varieties to choose from and hundreds of recipes for preparing them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.
Selecting: Winter squash should be firm and feel heavy for their size. Look for those that are unblemished and have a thick, tough skin. Avoid squash with soft spots or punctures in their skin.
Storing: Whole winter squash can be kept in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place for 4 to 6 months. Once cut, squash can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Preparing: Thoroughly rinse the squash under cool running water and dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. To cut, place squash on a sturdy cutting board and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut straight through the center. Then scoop out the seeds and strings with a metal spoon.
TIP: It may be difficult to make the initial cut due to its thick skin. If you’re having trouble, cut a few small divots into the skin of your squash with a sharp paring knife, and then cook it in the microwave for about 3 – 5 minutes. This should be enough to soften the skin and make it easier to cut into halves or wedges.
Cooking: Squash can be baked, roasted, steamed or even microwaved. It’s extremely versatile and can be so much more than just a side dish. Try it as an entrée for a Meatless Monday dinner or even as a dessert. Pumpkin pie is a well-known favorite, but how about Kabocha pie for a change?
TIP: If you’re looking to make a homey squash soup for dinner, you don’t have to peel it first. Just roast or bake it and then simply scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. And remember, certain varieties such as kabocha and delicata have skins you can even eat once they’re roasted.
Are you new to squash and not sure where to start? You might try roasting an acorn squash which is readily available in most supermarkets. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and then carefully slice into about 1-inch wedges. Toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. (If you feel like some sweetness add a touch of maple syrup or brown sugar to the mix.) Place the acorn squash wedges on a nonstick baking sheet and roast at about 400 degrees until tender, about 45 to 50 minutes, turning over wedges once about halfway through the cooking time.
TIP: For easy cleanup line your baking sheet with aluminum foil or try this eco-friendly alternative. They’re amazing!
Hungry for more? Try your hand at a few of our favorite squash recipes.
Latest posts by Beth Sullivan (see all)
- Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches - June 3, 2016
- Trying to Make My Favorite Treats a Little Healthier - January 29, 2016
- Healthy Smoothies that Are Actually Tasty - January 8, 2016