Move over, zucchini, pattypan and all you other summer squashes. Winter squash is here to stay. At least for the next few months. Sweet, nutty and nutritious, it can be found in abundance at your local grocery store. And while they are one of the most affordable pieces of produce around, they take more work to prepare than their warm-weather relatives. But, trust us, it’s worth it.
Not sure where to start? Here’s your guide on how to prep, slice and cook the most common of grocery-store gourds.
If you’re new to winter squash, start with this bowling pin-shaped beauty. Its rich, buttery flesh can be roasted and tossed into wild rice or green salads, pasta dishes and soups.
- To prepare: Cut off the stem and blossom end with a chef’s knife. Then cut in half horizontally into two pieces—the slender and seedy bulbous half. Using a sturdy serrated vegetable peeler or paring knife like the CHICAGO CUTLERY® DAMEN™ 3.5″ PARER KNIFE, remove the skin from both halves, making sure you slide the cutting tool away from you. Cut the bulbous end in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds. Cut the entire squash into cubes and place in a shallow pan. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400°F for about 30 minutes.
Always a favorite, mellow-flavored acorn squash can be cored, seeded and stuffed with sausage, cheese and rice for a savory meal. Or sliced, buttered and topped with brown sugar for a sweet twist.
- To prepare: No need to peel this tender treat before cutting. Simply slice off both ends using a chef’s knife like the CHICAGO CUTLERY® DAMEN™ 7.75″ CHEF KNIFE. Halve lengthwise with one of the cut sides down, and use a sturdy spoon to scoop out the seeds and membrane. Place halves, cut side down, in a shallow pan. (Or cut into slices or wedges.) Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350°F until tender, about 30 minutes.
A great gluten-free swap for when you want a forkful of pasta without the carbs, spaghetti squash is also delicious tossed with cheese and baked casserole style.
- To prepare: The spaghetti-like strands hidden in the center are what you’re after. To get to them, poke several holes with your CHICAGO CUTLERY® DAMEN™ 3.5″ PARER KNIFElengthwise along the middle of the squash, then microwave for 5 minutes to soften the tough outer shell. Once softened, slice in half using a large, sturdy knife, like a Santoku or a chef knife, along the paring knife marks. Place squash, cut side down, in a shallow pan. Add 1/4 inch of water to pan. Bake at 375°F until tender, about 45 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to handle, use a fork to separate and pull away the strands from the flesh.
KABOCHA SQUASH OR PUMPKIN
With their tough outer skins, these guys require a little muscle, a soft wood cutting board like the CHICAGO CUTLERY® WOODWORKS™ 14″ X 20″ BAMBOO CUTTING BOARD and a very sharp heavy knife, like a classic chef knife or a CHICAGO CUTLERY® DAMEN™ 6.75” SANTOKU KNIFE.
- To prepare: To cut, point your knife tip at the stem and drive the blade down through one half using a rocking motion. If this doesn’t work, give the top of the blade a hard tap with your hand to break the skin. Then, with a dish towel resting on top of your knife, push down hard to cut all the way through. Do the same on the opposite side. Using your hands, tear the two halves apart. Use a spoon to remove seeds; cut into desired-size cubes or strips. Place in a shallow pan. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425°F until golden, about 30-35 minutes.