Winter Squash

By early autumn, winter squash appear in the market. Try them - they're delicious, versatile, and economical.



The markets are piled high with colorful squash in the fall.

Zucchini, crookneck, and yellow summer squash give way to more robust acorn, butternut, golden nugget, Hubbard, turban, and spaghetti squash (to name a few).

To Prepare Winter Squash
Most winter squash are similar in taste and texture and can be substituted for each other in may incidences.

Their long growing season gives these squash thick, inedible shells. Inside, they have seed-filled, fibrous centers, which are discarded. The firm flesh is wonderfully versatile and tasty.

Baking the squash makes it easy to peel. You can peel it uncooked, too, and cube the flesh.

The flesh can be steamed, sautéed, or added to casseroles, soups, and stews. It can also be cooked and then pureed for thick, warming soups.

To Cut Winter Squash
Use a large knife to cut winter squash. Some are tricky to cut; tap the knife with a kitchen mallet to break the skin.

Set large, clumsy specimens on a folded towel to hold them in place while you cut.

To Bake Winter Squash
Small winter squash can be cut in half, seeds scooped, and then baked, cut-side up and covered with foil, in a 350°F oven until just fork-tender.

Fill them with meat and vegetable fillings and continue baking, uncovered, for another 20 to 25 minutes until piping hot.

Bake larger squash by cutting them into halves or wedges. Place them cut-side down in a baking dish. Add about an inch of water and bake at 350°F. until the flesh is fork-tender. This can take from 40 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the squash pieces.

Scoop out the seeds and discard. Use the cooked flesh as a recipe instructs - or simply mash it with a fork and season with salt and pepper and a little butter.

To Steam Winter Squash
Put uncooked, cubed squash in a steaming basket set over boiling water. Cover the pot and steam for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

Whether you use a steamer or a collapsible steaming basket set in a larger pot, don't let the water touch the squash during steaming. Make sure the water comes to a boil before adding the squash.