Squash is one of those vegetables that for some reason can be a little intimidating. You might have eaten it for Thanksgiving, but how do you incorporate it into more week-night meals? Can you eat the skin? And how do you cook it? In reality, squash, in all of its many forms, is really not a lot different from beets or even potatoes. It’s easy to work with, not to mention it’s full of nutrients, a great source of fiber and even offers up some protein.
So how do you cook it? Although you can boil and bake squash, even grill it, we think the best and most time effective way to cook it is to roast it. If you’re eating it solo then flavor it up with herbs and spices. If you’re stuffing it or adding it to a salad, you can simply baste it in olive oil and roast away. Here’s how:
- Turn the oven on to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cut the squash in half from top to bottom.
- Scoop out seeds.
- Brush the squash with olive oil (approximately 1/4 cup)
- Sprinkle squash with desired seasonings. Consider salt and pepper to start, garlic powder and any additional herbs.
- Place squash face down, with outer skin facing up, on a baking sheet.
- Cover with tin foil for at least half of the cooking time. If you don’t have any on hand, you don’t have to cover it, but covering it will help it to cook more evenly
- Place on rack in the middle of the oven.
Cook for 40-60 minutes, until tender on the inside.
The smaller varieties, such as delicata, will cook faster than the larger varieties, such as spaghetti squash.
11. You can eat the skin on thin-skinned squash such as delicata and acorn, but we don’t recommend eating the tougher skin on varieties such as butternut, spaghetti or hubbard.
Roasting cubed squash: Another option is to peel and cube the squash before placing it in the oven. Place the cubes in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and seasoning, and then roast them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes. This method is like roasting potatoes and the squash pieces will cook faster.
Baked squash: Cut squash in half tip to tip and remove seeds. Place squash halves face up in a backing dish. Add 1/2 inch of water to bottom of baking dish. Place 3-4 tablespoons of butter inside each half of squash. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. Cover dish with tin foil. Cook at 350-375 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour or until squash is tender. Remove tinfoil for the last half or one-third of cooking time.
Sautee Squash: Or, place squash cubes in a skillet on medium heat. Drizzle with olive oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until cubs are slightly brown and tender. As the cubes cook, add 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced thyme and a pinch of salt.
- Butternut squash. This squash has a narrower top and a more bulbous bottom, which holds its seeds. Butternut’s tan skin contains orange flesh inside, which is sweet and super flavorful. Butternut is a safe bet as far as squash goes. Roast it as halves or peel the skin and cook it in cubes. The skin is not edible.
- Spaghetti squash. Ranging in color from ivory to yellow-ish, orange, the spaghetti squash flesh is an off-white, yellow-ish color. Aside from pumpkins, it is one of the larger squash varieties, but still easy to cook and work with. Once cooked, just scrape the insides with a fork to make spaghetti-like strands. The fun part, is that the shell is even and sturdy and can also serve as a bowl to serve it.
- Sweet Dumpling. Want to add a little colorful fun to the dinner plate, cook up a sweet dumpling, which is usually cream-colored with green or orange stripes and yellow flesh inside. Similar in size to an acorn squash, it is sweet but not quite as rich as its acorn cousin.
- Green Acorn. This squash is one of the most commonly used squash varieties with its dark green skin and orange colored flesh inside. It serves up a mild buttery flavor when cooked, which can come across as a bit bland so feel free to season away with this variety. While often people just eat the flesh, the skin is also edible. It’s easy to bake or roast and its shape makes it simple to stuff. It’s usually the one you find in Thanksgiving or holiday dishes.
- Hubbard squash. This one is a bit of a chameleon both in skin and flavor. It can be blue, green or orange on the outside. Flavor wise, it offers up a nutty buttery flavor and yet, it is also thought to be sweet and a good option to use as a back-up for pumpkin pie. It offers a firmer texture than fresh pumpkin but a flavor that doesn’t require as much sweetener as pumpkin. Its skin is tough, so when you roast it, it’s best to cut it into slices or chunks with the skin on before you cook it.
- Turban squash. This type of squash is mostly used for decoration (think gourds), and yet it is actually very tasty with a sweet, nutty flavor. Its name comes from the fact that a small bump on top, makes the squash look like it’s wearing a turban.
- Delicata. Often referred to as the sweet potato squash, the delicata features creamy, yellow flesh, which does in fact taste likes sweet potato with a hint of corn and acorn squash, too. Its one of the smaller varities of squash and its skin is thin, which means it is edible after you roast it (much like zucchini). This one is often steamed, grilled or baked, and you might find it in ratatouille.
- Gold Nugget squash: One of the more mild tasting of the squash varieties, it’s shaped a bit rounder—a cross between an acorn squash and a pumpkin. Its orange skin and orange flesh offer up a slightly sweet, yet mild flavor.
- White acorn. Also known as pepper squash, white acorn squash is as its name suggests, white (or sometimes yellow-ish) and has a yellow flesh inside. It is known to be very tender and mild in flavor.
- Kabocha. This variety is also known as Japanese pumpkin. It looks like a mini green pumpkin and has thin skin that can be eaten. It holds the highest sugar content of any squash and therefore is rich and tasty and excellent served solo or stuffed like you would an acorn squash. It’s orange flesh also becomes very creamy when cooked, making it a great choice for soups as well.
- Red Kuri. The red kuri squash is related to kabocha squash, but looks very similar to a Gold Nugget squash with its round body and slightly pointed top. It has an orange outer skin and orange flesh, which is rich, sweet, yet with a hint of spice and chestnut, too. This variety is excellent roasted and eaten solo or mixed into other dishes.