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How to Cook Butternut Squash Three Ways

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I love butternut squash—and since it's dead easy to cook, I think it loves me, too.

Learn three ways to cook butternut squash!

Learn three ways to cook butternut squash!

I love butternut squash—and since it is dead easy to cook, I think it loves me, too. On Thanksgiving, we usually serve butternut squash mashed up just like mashed potatoes, with a bit of butter melted into it. But it is even easier to just cut it in half and bake or roast it in the oven.

Here are a few different ways you can cook this extremely adaptable and delicious squash.

1. Roasted Butternut Squash Halves in the Oven

The simplest method to cook butternut squash is to cut it in half and bake it in the oven. Just be careful when cutting the squash. The skin is very tough, so you need to use a very sharp knife.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Butter or olive oil, as needed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional spices: ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, or a cinnamon-sugar mixture
  • Water, for the pan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash the squash and then cut it lengthwise down the middle.
  3. Scoop out the seeds.
  4. Lightly coat the exposed meaty parts of the squash with butter or olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  6. For extra pizzaz, add a touch of ground ginger (or nutmeg or cinnamon). For a sweeter taste, use a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  7. Place the halves cut-side up in a baking pan. Carefully pour some water in the bottom of the pan so that the squash will steam in the oven.
  8. Cook until lightly browned and fork-tender, usually about 1 hour.

After cooking, you can either serve the squash in the skin or cut it into quarters. You can also choose to scoop out the squash meat from the skin. Some folks mash it or blend it, but I like it with a little more texture.

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2. Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes in the Oven

This method is very similar to the one above—except rather than roasting halves, with the skin still attached, you remove the skin and cut up the squash into cubes or chunks before roasting. With this method, the cooking time is shorter.

The ingredients are the same as above, but we will omit the water.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash the squash and then peel the skin (you can use a peeler for this).
  3. Cut the squash lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the seeds.
  4. Cut the squash into cubes, roughly 3/4 inch to 1 inch in size. The exact size isn't very important, but all of the cubes should be roughly the same size so that they will cook evenly.
  5. In a bowl, mix the butter or olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and any additional spices you like (ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.).
  6. Toss the squash cubes in the butter or oil mixture so that each cube is lightly coated.
  7. Spread out the cubes in a single layer on a baking pan.
  8. Cook until lightly browned and fork-tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Butternut Squash in the Microwave

If you're short on time, using the microwave is a great hack! Just follow these easy instructions:

  1. Wash the squash and then cut it lengthwise down the middle.
  2. Scoop out the seeds.
  3. Place both halves, open face down, in a microwave-safe dish.
  4. Using a high setting, cook the squash for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the halves over, so that the open sides are now facing up. Cook again for 5 minutes.
  6. Keep cooking for 2-minute intervals until the squash is soft and cooked through.
Butternut squash can be incorporated into side dishes, soups, stews, and salads.

Butternut squash can be incorporated into side dishes, soups, stews, and salads.

Recipes You Have to Try!

  • Garlic Delight: This Garlicky Baked Butternut Squash from Allrecipes looks delicious and is on my "to do" list for the next time I go to the supermarket. It's a very simple recipe: the idea is to add garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese to the standard baking method after cutting the squash up into cubes. From the photos, it certainly looks yummy!
  • Moroccan Flair: From Bowl of Delicious comes a fabulous recipe called Moroccan Spice Roasted Butternut Squash. The recipe incorporates aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, ground ginger, and cinnamon for a tasty Middle Eastern flavor.
  • Classic Soup: Butternut squash is great in soups because it lends such a wonderfully creamy texture. I really like this basic soup recipe from Whole Foods. The preparation is a simple one, but they also list several variations in case you want to spice things up a bit.

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