With the coming of October, fresh seasonal Winter Squash are available in most markets. We love winter squash, especially pumpkin, though we also eat a good amount of acorn, spaghetti, butternut, kabocha, and all sorts of other squashes.
Fresh whole squash may look a bit intimidating, but they are remarkably easy to prepare.
To start, wash your squash in order to remove any dirt that may still be on its surface.
Then, knock off the stem, if there’s still a stem attached. I generally use the back of an extremely solid knife to do this, but you can also use the edge of a counter, or something similarly hard. It just takes one good whack to knock it off. You may even be able to do it by hand, though I can never quite manage it.
After you remove the stem, cut the squash in half. This takes a sharp knife and a good amount of pressure. To do this safely, try to set your squash in such a way that it’s least likely to roll.
Once you have two halves, scoop the seeds out of the center of your squash. Set them aside so you can use them to make Roasted Squash Seeds.
Then, turn your squash halves upside down and lay them in a baking dish. You may have to use a separate dish for each side of the squash if your halves are too big to both fit in one dish (this, of course, depends on the size of your dish as well as the size of your squash — I use one like THIS).
Add about ¼ inch of water to the bottom of the dish, enough to cover the bottom edge of your squash halves.
Place in a preheated 350-degree oven and bake for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the squash and the thickness of its flesh, or until the flesh feels soft when pressed with a fork (insert the fork tines through the skin on the part of the squash farthest from the bottom of the pan).
Remove the dish from the oven, and remove the squash sides from the hot dish.
At this point, you have roasted squash. You can season and serve the squash as is, or you can now scoop out the flesh and use it for another purpose.
How do you cook winter squash?