Winter squash such as acorn, butternut, and delicata squash make delightful soups, side dishes, or stuffings. Small chunks of winter squash also enrich pasta with lots of healthy fiber and beta carotene.
But the hard skin of some types of winter squash can prove challenging to cut. Use a heavy chef’s knife or a cleaver, especially for larger squash.
First, make a shallow cut in the skin to use as a guide to prevent the knife blade from slipping. Then place the blade in the cut and tap the base of the knife (near the handle) with your fist (or, if necessary, with a mallet or hammer) until the squash is cut through. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and cut the squash into smaller chunks, if desired.
If peeled chunks of squash are required, cut the squash into pieces, then peel them with a sturdy, sharp paring knife. Very hard-skinned squash is much easier to peel after cooking.
Once you’ve cut the squash, you’ve finished the hard part. The easy part? Incorporating this healthy, seasonal vegetable into your meals.
10 ways to serve winter squash
1. Stuff manicotti with a blend of puréed winter squash and cottage cheese.
2. Substitute mashed winter squash for pumpkin in pies, quick breads, and muffins.
3. Halve and seed acorn squash, stuff with a flavorful rice mixture, and bake.
4. Purée roasted winter squash, then add broth and seasonings to make a soup. Garnish with toasted squash seeds.
5. Cut rings of acorn squash (no need to peel), drizzle with maple syrup, and bake.
6. Mash cooked squash with sautéed onions or garlic and herbs as a side dish, instead of mashed potatoes.
7. Combine chunks of cooked squash with cooked corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
8. Toss small cubes of cooked squash with pasta, sautéed onion, and herbs. Add a little olive oil or broth for a winter entrée.
9. Use small chunks of winter squash in your favorite stuffing.
10. Use whole small steamed or baked squash, or even small pumpkins, as serving bowls for soups or stews. Scoop out the flesh after baking and use it in the soup, or mash it and reserve for another use.
Also see this recipe: Golden Butternut Squash Soup.