Roasting squash brings out its natural sweetness for a healthy fall side dish. Here’s how to roast squash and some of my favorite ways to use it.
There are so many different kinds of winter squash, and fall is the best time of year to try them all out. The rest of the year, you can find butternut and acorn squash, but this is when grocery stores are well-stocked with every type of winter squash you can imagine. And no matter which type you choose, you’re guaranteed a delicious dish that’s packed with nutrition!
Reasons to Love Winter Squash
There are so many reasons to love winter squash and make it part of your fall cooking rotation:
- Winter squash is one of the healthiest veggies you can add to your dinner plate! It’s full of fiber and a natural source of beta carotene and vitamin C, among other vitamins and minerals, and it’s low in calories and fat.
- Winter squash is versatile. You can play up its natural sweetness by pairing it with maple syrup, apples, cinnamon, or brown sugar, or pair it with savory flavors for a contrast.
- Winter squash is one of the best substitutes for pumpkin. So you can use butternut squash to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread!
Best Types of Winter Squash
Here are some of the most common varieties of winter squash:
- Acorn Squash – Acorn squash gets its name from its signature shape. It has a mild flavor that’s a little less sweet than other types of winter squash, so it’s best paired with assertive flavors.
- Butternut Squash – Perhaps the most popular winter squash, butternut squash has a thick skin and orange interior. It can be roasted, braised, or steamed.
- Spaghetti Squash – Once cooked, you can scrape the inside of a spaghetti squash with a fork and the flesh separates into tender strings. Unlike other types of winter squash, this one is not quite as versatile—the best way to use it is to toss it with a sauce or use it in a casserole.
- Delicata Squash – This sweet squash has a tubular shape with green stripes. Slice it into rounds or half-moons and don’t worry about peeling—the thin skin is edible!
- Hubbard Squash – Hubbard squash comes in a range of colors, from orange to green. It’s usually boiled and then pureed for using in baked goods and soups.
- Kabocha Squash – Kabocha has a dark green exterior and a bright orange inside; it’s naturally sweet, and commonly used in Japanese cuisine.
- Red Kuri Squash – Sometimes called a Hokkaido pumpkin, this deep orange squash has a teardrop shape and it can be used interchangeably with acorn squash in recipes.
How to Roast Squash
Most winter squash is roasted using the method below. This technique works well for roasted butternut squash, acorn squash, kabocha, etc. The primary difference you might encounter is with the skin, as it can be left on for some types of squash, while for others it will need to be removed.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF and slice the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any strings.
2. Cook the Squash
Place the halves cut-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet, then pour a cup of water onto the pan. This will help make the squash tender and keep it from sticking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the thickest part of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
Let the squash cool, then use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Discard the skin.
This will give you a roasted squash to use in soups, baked goods, and other recipes where a puree is required.
Do you need to peel the squash before roasting?
If you’re roasting cubes or slices of squash, you might want to peel it first if the skin is thick. When you’re roasting a whole squash, as described above, you don’t have to peel it first because you’ll scoop out the cooked flesh and discard the skin.
Can you eat the skin on all types of squash?
The skin on winter squash is edible, no matter the variety, but it’s not always appetizing—thicker skins are tough to chew, so it’s best to remove them. Delicata and acorn squash are two types of squash where the skin is often left on, while it’s usually removed with spaghetti squash and butternut squash.
Can you roast squash with skin on?
Yes! And roasting squash with the skin on, then discarding it, is much easier than peeling the skin first.
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