By Laura Coffee, Marketing & Owner Services manager
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When I was a kid I thought there was only one way to cook squash – cut it in half, fill it with butter and brown sugar, and bake it. There’s nothing wrong with that combo, but it turns out to be just beginning of what you can do with this versatile vegetable.
For our purposes, winter squash is any squash that has a thin outer skin, flesh that is hard when uncooked, and an inner cavity filled with seeds. For the recipes and techniques we’ll be discussing, the best varieties to use are acorn, butternut, turban, delicata, hubbard, and pie pumpkins. Summer squash (think zucchinis) is too soft and wet for these applications.
While it can be eaten raw, most of the uses for winter squash require cooking it first. The easiest way that I have found to do that is as follows:
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. The sheet can be lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake until a fork easily pierces the skin of the squash and the flesh is tender. I start checking at around 25 minutes. If the fork doesn’t go in easily, wait 10 minutes and check again. Once your squash passes the fork test, remove it from the oven. Let cool just enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Once you have scooped out the flesh, you can use it right away or freeze it for later. One snack size ziplock bag holds just about the right amount for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.
“Pumpkin” Pie Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen cooked squash (see above)
- 2 cups milk
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds (optional)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
Place all ingredients in a large blender. Pulse (on ice mode if you have it) until the squash is broken up a bit, then blend until smooth. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon if desired. Makes two large or four small smoothies.
The many uses of squash:
- Toast the seeds.
- Stuffed with cooked rice, sausage, or other veggies and baked.
- Saute the “guts” and seeds in oil to flavor the oil. Strain the flavored oil and add to soups.
- Baked and pureed into pasta sauce.
- Mixed with cheese as a pasta filling.
- Baked and used in smoothies.
- Baked and mixed into casseroles.
- Mashed with potatoes for Stamppot.
- As a replacement for pumpkin in baked goods.
- Baked with butter and brown sugar.
- On it’s own as a side dish.
- Shredded and cooked in BBQ sauce for a sandwich filling.
- 1 baked acorn squash (see above)
- 3 Russet potatoes
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance butter*
- 1 vegan bouillon cube*
Bake squash according to directions. Peel and boil Russet potatoes until cooked through. Mash potatoes and squash flesh with a stand mixer or handheld potato masher until broken up. Add butter and bouillon and continue mashing until well combined. Serve as a side, on it’s own, or use as a flavorful topping for Shepherd’s Pie.
*These are the ingredients I used, but you can use any butter, bouillon cube, or even broth, that you like. You can also use Greek yogurt or sour cream in place of the butter and fresh herbs or garlic paste in place of the bouillon.