Three Ways to Cook Butternut Squash

Cooking butternut squash, with its hard, thick shell, can seem daunting. But it’s easy to prepare this orange-fleshed winter staple once you learn a few simple tips. Use butternut squash in soups and pasta dishes, or just serve it baked in its shell with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. Cook butternut squash by baking, microwaving or roasting.

The first method involves peeling the whole squash. 

1. Cut off both ends of the squash and scoop the seeds out of the wide end with a spoon.

2. Wearing an apron, hold the squash against your chest to keep it steady. With a vegetable peeler, remove the skin, working toward you.

3. With a large, sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise.

4. Cut each section in half, then in quarters, and dice it.

The second method requires you to halve the squash. 

1. Place the squash on a cutting board.

2. Hold the squash steady with one hand. With the other, use a large knife to halve the squash lengthwise.

3. Set the squash halves on the cutting board, flesh-side up.

4. Using a spoon (a serrated grapefruit spoon works well), scoop the seeds and pulp out of each squash half.

Now that you’ve broken down the squash, you can bake, microwave or roast it to use in recipes or to enjoy as a side dish.

Microwave

Fill the cavity of each squash half with a pat of butter and sprinkle with brown sugar or honey. Then, lay the squash halves cut-side down on a piece of microwave-safe plastic wrap placed directly on a microwave-safe plate. Cook the squash on high in 5-minute intervals until completely softened and cooked through, or about 10 minutes total. Your cook time will vary depending upon the size of your squash.

If you like a baked finish to your squash, place it in the oven at 350 degrees for another 5-10 minutes or until it’s caramelized.

 

Bake

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Gather together 2 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded; 4 teaspoons butter; 4 teaspoons brown sugar; and salt and pepper.

Place the butternut squash halves on a large baking sheet, flesh-side up. Then, season the cavities with salt and pepper, place 1 teaspoon of butter in the middle of each squash half, and sprinkle brown sugar or drizzle honey over it. Roast the squash for 25 minutes, or until the flesh is fork-tender.

Roast

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Place the squash cubes on a sheet pan and drizzle them with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss well. Now, arrange the squash in one layer and roast it for 25 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender, turning once with a metal spatula.