Hooks for Cooks™

Pumpkins and Winter SquashNow that fall is here, I am admiring the massive displays of winter squash and edible pumpkins. At the grocery stores and at the local farmers markets, we’ve been blessed with an array of varieties–Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti and Jack Be Little to name just a few.

I like to include these vegetables in my repertoire, but I will readily admit that I  don’t relish peeling and chopping these tough little buggers. Over the years, I’ve adapted a simple solution.

One of my ways to deal with a squash is to simply poke it with a sharp knife, plop it on a baking sheet, and bake it whole  in a 350 F oven for an hour, or until it is tender when pierced with a paring knife.  (Of course, the cooking time varies according to size.)

This method makes it so much easier to tackle the skin and access the flesh. Once it cools for a little while, I simply cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and scrape out the flesh. The skin and seeds are fed to our flock of hens.  The soft squash or pumpkin is easily added to soups and stews.  If I’ve cooked spaghetti squash, the yellow strands are simply topped with some homemade sauce.

However, if I want diced squash, this method isn’t applicable, so I simply have to sharpen my knife and carefully slice my way through the task at hand. Even though I have never bought my squash preskinned and cubed, this option is now appearing more readily at grocers in my area during the fall. If that prepped option appeals to you, then by all means ask for it in your produce department.

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