There are plenty of ways to cook up winter squash. Here we cover the three easiest and most common. They work wonderfully whether you have a butternut squash, an acorn squash, a spaghetti squash, a pumpkin, or any winter squash.
Best of all, these methods work to cook squash to use any way you please, including simply served with a bit of butter and sugar or just salt and pepper for an easy, flavorful, nutrient-packed sunny dish.
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How to Bake or Roast Winter Squash
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut off any stem end the squash may have. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a large soup spoon or a melon baller to scoop and discard the seeds and the fibrous stuff that grows around them. Lightly oil or butter a baking sheet or pan. Place the squash halves cut-side-down on the sheet and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, which can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the type and size of the winter squash at hand.
Roasting or baking works for all winter squashes and is a particularly good way to cook up a large number of winter squash. Once roasted, you can scoop out the tender squash from the peel and serve with butter and salt or sugar, or use it to make Mashed Squash or in recipes that call for cooked squash, such as this winter squash spice cake.
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How to Steam Winter Squash
Halve and seed the squash as pictured. Then cut or slice the squash into serving pieces, peeling if you like. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pot. Put squash pieces in a steamer basket and place, covered, over the boiling water. Steam, covered, until tender to the bite or when pierced with a fork, 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of squash pieces.
As with roasted or baked squash, steamed squash is also good for mashing to using in recipes that call for cooked squash.
Steaming works best with squash varieties that aren't too difficult to peel, such as butternut squash and kabocha squash, or squash that don't require peeling such as delicata squash.
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How to Microwave Squash
Microwaving squash is nice because you can cook it whole, and then cut it up, remove the seeds, and all that, once the flesh is already tender. Poke winter squash all over with a fork. Microwave at full power for 5 minutes for smaller squash and 10 minutes for larger squash. At this point, a fork should easily pierce the peel and flesh. If it doesn't, microwave squash at 1-minute intervals until it is tender. Let the squash sit until cool enough to handle. Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard seeds, and season, scoop, or cut squash as desired.
Microwaving is an easy way to cook all winter squash varieties.