Butternut squash is tender, sweet and a bit nutty. Roast it whole, bake in wedges or simmer in curries to make the most of this criminally delicious orange veggie. Here’s the rap sheet on how to cook it:
Do you need to peel butternut squash?
Peeling butternut squash isn’t necessary, especially if you’re planning on pureeing it for soups or simply scooping out the flesh once baked. Roasting softens the skin, mellows out bitterness and intensifies its natural sweetness. However, if you prefer a smoother texture and neater appearance, peel before cooking.
How to roast chopped butternut squash
Trim the ends and chop the squash in half at the waist (where the neck meets the bulbous bit at the bottom). Peel both segments with a vegetable peeler, slice lengthways, scoop out the seeds and chop the flesh into chunks, slices or wedges before tumbling onto a baking tray. Drizzle over oil, salt, pepper and seasonings, such as garlic powder, paprika or dried herbs, before baking in a medium oven until tender (here’s a quick guide on roasting squash). Serve them as a side to a main meal, scatter over salads, puree to make roasted squash soup, stuff into ravioli or fold into a sweet pie.
How to bake halved butternut squash
Leave the skin on, halve lengthways and remove the seeds. Then score the flesh and bake for 50 minutes to an hour depending on size. Finally, chop into chunks or scoop out the flesh for making soups or gnocchi.
For less work but a longer bake time, roast the squash whole like a jacket potato – pierce the skin a few times with a sharp knife and bake until soft in the centre. When slightly cooled, halve it, remove the seeds, scoop out the tender flesh and enjoy (or stir in cheese and herbs, stuff the whole lot back into the skins and roast again to make cheesy twice-baked butternut squash).
How to stuff butternut squash
Bake your halved squashed until it’s part-cooked. Then remove from the oven and pile your stuffing mix into each portion (we like spinach, parmesan and mozzarella but anything goes from rich Bolognese and cheddar to cous cous and feta). Return to the oven and bake until the filling is hot and the squash is tender in the middle.
How to grill butternut squash
Slice your squash into inch-sized pieces, marinade in seasonings and a touch of oil before placing on your barbecue. Once grill marks appear on one side, turn over and repeat before finishing them off in the oven.
Can I boil butternut squash?
Boil chunks of squash in salted water, in the same was as you’d cook potatoes. Drain and add butter to make butternut squash mash or stir it through mac and cheese for an intensely orange colour and deeper flavour.
Cooking squash in a seasoned liquid, like a Thai curry made with coconut milk, an Indian spicy masala or a Moroccan lamb casserole, is far more flavourful than boiling – the cubes swell up and become velvety soft as they soak up the sauce.
How to make butternut squash spaghetti
Treat spiralled squash like cooked spaghetti – toss into a hot pan of sautéed garlic and stir until tender or fast-fry in a wok. Alternatively, roast them on a baking tray with plenty of olive oil before plating up and sprinkling over lots of freshly grated parmesan, like this recipe for squash spaghetti recommends.
What can I do with the seeds?
Wash and roast the seeds in a drizzle of oil before blitzing into pestos and dips, mixing into energy balls or sprinkling over bread doughs prior to baking.