When it comes to winter squash, most people get stuck at the buff-colored butternut. Not a bad thing … butternut squash has a great texture and deep, sweet flavor. But there's a whole wide world of other winter squash out there to explore. Here's how to navigate the terrain.
I tend to divide squash up into three totally unscientific categories:
1) Squash I Peel and Cube Before Roasting -- Really the only one that falls into this category, in my book, is butternut. I use a super-sharp peeler to remove the skin, cut the top and bottom off, and then cut the squash in half lengthwise. After scooping out the seeds, I cut it into cubes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425 until nice and tender and browned.
2) Squash That I Slice Before Roasting -- These squash have thicker skins--or ridged or bumpy skins--that make them difficult to peel, but not so thick that you can't slice through them. With these, I like to cut them in half, scrape out the seeds, cut into slices, and roast those slices with the skin on. I especially like these brushed with some sort of glaze. Squash that fall into this category are acorn and delicata.
3) Squash That I Cut in Half and Roast the Halves Whole -- These are squash with super thick skin and/or crumbly flesh, and they're much more maneuverable once they're roasted. Use a sturdy knife to cut these in half, scrape out the seeds, and brush the flesh with olive oil. Roast until the flesh is tender--if you're using it for a puree, roast it for a bit longer until it's almost scoopable; if you're wanting cubes or slices, roast just until fork tender. Squash that fall into this category are kabocha, spaghetti squash, turban squash, red kuri squash and blue hubbard.
So eat lots of squash this winter … and go beyond butternut!