Butternut squash has a delicious sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin and it’s loaded with Vitamin A, C, and fiber. It’s an autumn-winter vegetable available in the cold season from around September to December. It’s pear-shaped or bell-shaped and it grows on a vine and has tan-yellow skin and fleshy orange pulp with seeds. At the market or store, buy butternut squash that is firm and doesn’t have any bruises, cracks or soft spots. You can use squash in various hot and cold, sweet and savory dishes. There are various ways to cook and prepare butternut squash depending on the result you are looking for.
Tips To Peel, Chop and Prepare Butternut Squash
Here is an easy and efficient way of peeling, preparing and cutting a butternut squash. In preparation of chopping, there are two tips to make it easier: Because butternut squash skin is very tough, put the entire thing in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to soften the skin and make it easier to peel. The second tip is to prevent the chopping board and the squash from sliding around, put a tea towel or dish cloth underneath your chopping board to help keep it steady. You’ll need a sharp knife, a chopping board, a spoon, and a sharp vegetable peeler. You can leave the skin on if you’re slow-roasting the squash because the skin is edible and when it’s baked it becomes softer.
- Rinse the squash clean with cold water and pat dry.
- On the chopping board, cut off the top and bottom of the squash with a knife.
- Cut crosswise through the vegetable to cut it in half.
- If you choose to remove the skin, use a vegetable peeler, Y-peeler, or knife to do so.
- After the skin is removed, cut each half in half again. The seeds will all be exposed now so you can scoop out the seeds using a spoon. The seeds are usually in the bulbous bottom hald of the squash, but there might be some near the top too.
- Now you can slice the butternut into cubes, chunks, or wedges or whatever your recipe calls for.
How to Roast Whole Butternut Squash
If you want to prepare butternut squash perfect for stuffed squash, then roasting is a good solution. You may roast it with the cut side facing down or up. When you roast with the cut side facing down, it will probably become a little more browned and flavorsome. When you roast it with the cut side facing up, you can also add additional flavorings such as butter and brown sugar. Whole roasting takes a bit longer to cook because it’s thicker. As a bonus, you don’t have to peel the squash because the skin becomes soft when baked.
- Preheat the oven to 400° to 425° Fahrenheit
- Scrub the squash clean with a small scrubbing brush and cold water, and pat dry.
- On the chopping board, cut off the top and bottom of the squash with a knife. You could also leave the top and bottom on if you like the way it looks.
- Cut through the center lengthwise (cut in half from the stem to the end)
- Scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts with a spoon and discard
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil to help make cleaning easier.
- Place the squash halves on the prepared baking tray, drizzle over some oil (such as olive oil), salt and pepper.
- Roast in the preheated oven until tender when pierced with a fork in the middle and slightly golden. Depending on the size of your squash, it could take 35 to 60 minutes.
How to Prepare Butternut Squash For A Baby
As soon as your baby is ready for finger foods at around ten months, you can serve cooked squash that’s cut into small pieces. From 4 to 6 months, butternut squash purée is a nutritious addition to your baby’s diet and is the ideal complement to other veggies and meats. You’ll need some peeled and roughly chopped squash as described in the section above. Always ask your pediatrician before introducing a new food to your baby especially if he or she suffers from food allergies.
- Boil some water in a medium saucepan.
- Add the roughly chopped pieces of squash and cook for about 15 minutes until tender.
- Drain and rinse the squash under cool water.
- Using a blender or a food processor, purée the squash until smooth. If you need to add a little water to achieve the consistency that you desire, do so slowly.
- The flavor will be mild, which is ideal for baby, but if you wish, you can mix in applesauce or other puréed fruit, vegetables, or meat.
- Serve once the purée has cooled to luke-warm (test it on your wrist).
- Refrigerate cooled leftovers for a maximum of 3 days or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How to Cook Whole Butternut Squash In The Microwave
To prepare butternut squash in the microwave is one of the quickest methods. You can either cook the squash in pieces, halves, or even as a whole. Here is the method for cooking one entire squash.
- Wash the squash in cold water and pat dry.
- Use a sharp paring knife to make a few slits all around the squash. This is essential to allow steam to escape.
- Put the squash in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish. It’s not necessary to add additional water because the squash already contains some moisture which is trapped inside by the thick skin.
- Microwave for between 10 and 15 minutes on high power depending on how big it is and on your microwave’s power. If you wish, after 10 minutes, you can stop the microwave and test the squash and continue cooking it in one-minute increments until done. Remember that it will also continue cooking for a few minutes.
- The squash will be very hot so use some oven mitts to carefully remove it from the microwave.
- As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, slice it in half lengthwise.
- Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin or remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh from the skin.