Butternut Squash, the most famous from the family of winter squashes, is a very versatile cooking ingredient and can be prepared and served in many ways, ranging from soups, stews, curries, side dishes, as well as baked into desserts. Most people shy away from buying these because they think its too much work to cook them, or they have no idea what to cook with them! I have received several email requests in the past for efficient methods to cook Butternut squash. As winter is going to be approaching soon, I thought it would be a good time to write this article which addresses all these concerns, as well as includes a few different methods to Cook Butternut Squash.
Butternut Squash [Image courtesy of allyou.com] is a very nutritious vegetable that is often understated in cooking. This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese. it has a mildly sweet taste, similar to sweet potato, just not as sweet. Roasting or Baking can accentuate the deep earthy flavors of Squash, making it a perfect accompaniment to seasonal vegetables. It also pairs well with fall fruits like apples and pears – something that is so versatile should definitely not be ignored! So this winter, try a hand at making something delicious with squash; read on for more ideas and recipes.
How To Cook Butternut Squash
This is probably the fastest method, and easy enough to monitor. This works great if you want squash chunks in your recipe. Chop the raw squash into cubes, leaving the skin on or cutting it off. Microwave the chunks until tender in a covered bowl, with about 1/2 inch of water in the vessel. Microwaving allows for the best retention of nutrition and hence should be used whenever possible. Keep checking your squash every 5 minutes or so; your total cook time will vary, depending on your quantity. But it should be similar to microwaving potato cubes.
This is the most preferred method, especially for pot roasts, soups and side dishes. The baking adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to the squash, and you can enhance it by sprinkling oil, herbs and spices while it bakes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash squash and then cut lengthwise down the middle. Scoop out the seeds and Lightly coat the exposed meaty parts of the squash with butter or olive oil. Add Salt and pepper to taste, with a touch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg if you like. Place cut side up in a baking pan with about an inch of water in the pan Cook until tender, usually about 1 hour.
The squash is done when it is lightly browned and can be pierced through using a fork. The size of squash, type of oven, type of baking dish – these factors will determine your baking time, so check your squash after 30 mins, and keep checking until its done.
Pressure Cook Method
The quickest method to cook any kind of hard vegetables, including squash, is to pressure cook it. This is the best method if you want to use the squash for a stew or as a puree, to make soups or desserts. Put cubes of squash into a pressure cooker “>pressure cooker, set the whistle, and allow to cook for at least 3-4 whistles. Pressure cooking gives a finer texture to the squash, and makes it really soft and tender.
I have personally tried the Baking and the Pressure Cooking methods, and they both seem to work very well. Roasting is the best way to bring out the complex flavors of the squash, however, it is also the most time-consuming method, so if you are in a hurry, or want to use the squash as a puree, go for the other two. Now that you have mastered the art of cooking Squash, I am sure you’ll need a few creative recipes to use these in your meals. Here are some of my favorite Butternut Squash recipes: