4 Simple Ways to Prepare Winter Squash

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’Tis the season to buy winter squash at your local natural and organic food store or farmers’ market.


Whether you select the acorn, buttercup, butternut (above) or Hubbard variety, you’ll enjoy numerous health benefits, as well as a tasty entree or side dish.

Let’s review the four basic ways to get cooking.

1. Bake/Roast

This method is super-delicious because it caramelizes a squash’s natural sugars:

  1. Cut squash in half (lengthwise), and remove seeds and strings.
  2. Place squash, flesh-side up, in a baking pan lined with foil. Season with salt and pepper. (For a sweeter version, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.)
  3. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

Recipe Suggestion: Robin Miller’s Roasted Butternut Squash

2. Sauté

Want to go a little crunchy? Try this method:

  1. Peel squash. Grate, cube or dice it.
  2. Sauté in vegetable broth for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. 

Recipe Suggestion:Candied Butternut Squash

3. Steam

If you want pure squash flavor (not roasted) and plan to mash the flesh with some butter:

  1. Halve squash lengthwise, and remove seeds and strings.
  2. Place cut-side down in a vegetable steamer.
  3. Cook over boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until flesh becomes tender.
  4. Note: Squash can also be peeled and cut into chunks or slices for steaming.

Recipe Suggestion:Steamed Butternut Squash with Red Chili Sauce

4. Boil

I’m not a fan of this technique, as squash becomes waterlogged and its flavor is diluted. If, however, you insist on boiling:

  1. Peel squash, and cut it into pieces.
  2. Place in a small amount of boiling water, and cook approximately 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. 

Recipe Suggestion: Don’t do it!

Bonus Recipe

Chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega Napa Valley shares his recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash tomorrow. And check back next week, when he turns his recipe into a gorgeous soup that’s perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

For Your Organic Bookshelf:A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash

Photo: Karen and Brad Emerson

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