Cooking Basics

How to cook butternut squash

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Butternut squash cut in half
Enjoy butternut squash as a side dish, soup or main course
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Sweet and delicious, butternut squash is easy to know how to cook

You've probably seen them in the grocery store, especially in autumn.  These long, creamy-colored vegetables look interesting, but you've never been sure what to do with them, right? Learning how to cook butternut squash is easy.  Ready to learn?

The basics of butternut squash

While there are lots of recipes that start with raw butternut squash, many call for "cooked squash." So you need to start by learning how to prepare and cook the vegetable on its own.

The Microwave Method of Cooking Squash

Fast, simple and easy to check, microwaving is a great way for beginners to cook butternut squash. Start by peeling the squash (a vegetable peeler works great for this.)  Cut the squash into cubes -- about 1" square if your recipes calls for mashed or pureed cooked squash, or larger cubes if you're making a stew.

Place the cubes in a microwave-safe bowl with about 1/2" of water in the bottom.  Cover the bowl, and microwave the squash until it's tender.

Because the time will depend on the size of your squash, the cubes and the bowl, there isn't a standard cook time.  Check your squash for tenderness about every five minutes.

Baking Butternut Squash

Baking or roasting butternut squash is a wonderful way to cook it. And for people just learning how to cook butternut squash, this method allows you to add flavor right from the start, making your final recipe even more delicious.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Wash your squash thoroughly, and then cut it in half longways. (Cutting off the stem end makes it easier to slice the squash down the middle -- just don't cut off too much.) Remove the seeds and any stringy bits with the edge of a tablespoon (a knife is difficult to use because of the curve.)

Brush the inside surfaces of the squash extra virgin olive oil, or spray with a high-quality cooking spray.

Add seasoning. If you're using the squash in a recipe, some of the same spices you'll be using later in the stew, soup or other dish are a good choice.  If you plan on eating the squash separately, a little salt and pepper is a good start.  Add a bit of pumpkin pie spice and a very light sprinkle of brown sugar for a sweet taste.  Or select herbs like sage, thyme or rosemary for a savory flavor. 

You can cook the squash cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet, or right side up in a shallow pan with about an inch of water.

The squash is done when it is lightly browned and very tender. As with the microwave, the times can vary, so check your butternut squash after about half an hour, and then every 10-15 minutes until done.

Grilling butternut squash

Another delicious way to cook your butternut squash is on a grill.  This simple method is a great choice for camping trips and bar-b-ques.

Wash the squash, and then cut it into rings about an inch thick.  Do not peel it. Remove the seeds and stringy parts, then brush all surfaces with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and the spices of your choice.. (Powdered jerk seasoning is very good for a spicy version.)

Place on grill, and cook until first side is lightly browned, then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the other side. Serve hot, as is, or with dipping sauce.

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