With fall in full swing, I have cooked butternut or spaghetti squash almost every week. I am amazed I never tasted winter squash before I moved to New England. I tried butternut squash for the first time when I went to my parents-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, over 15 years ago. At the time, she prepared it simply, seasoned with salt and pepper and it tasted delicious. When my son was 6 months old, I roasted butternut squash regularly because the my baby food book highly recommended roasted and pureed winter squash as a part of my child’s diet. Spaghetti squash, however, I tried a couple of years ago. I saw one of my co-workers eating it for lunch and it looked and smelled awesome. She told me a great weight loss trick to replace pasta with spaghetti squash.
Personally, I like to roast both kinds of squash before I use them in recipes. In the case of spaghetti squash, it won’t release from the skin unless it is fully cooked. With butternut squash, you can peel the skin off and then chop it or shred it raw. However, I find it very difficult to handle raw butternut squash as it becomes very slippery and challenging, especially with a knife.
The first step to roasting a squash is to cut the squash in half. I ask my husband to handle that part. If you have to do it yourself, please watch this video first. The second step is to remove the seeds. I save them because they taste great roasted and have many health benefits.
How to Roast a Squash
- 1 Squash (can be acorn or butternut or spaghetti)
- Sliced or crushed fresh garlic (optional)
- 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cut squash in half and remove seeds (an ice cream scoop works great)
- Put fresh garlic in cavities (optional)
- With a food brush, I lightly brush olive oil on flesh of squash
- Top with salt n pepper
- Some say to face the squash down but if I did that, I would not be able to add the garlic.
- Put in 350 degree oven covered with foil for one hour.
- Uncover, lower heat to 300 degrees and cook for an extra 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the squash starts to caramelize.
- Note: Cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the squash.
After spaghetti squash is cooked, scrape it out with a fork and it will look like strands of pasta.
Spaghetti squash after and before I scraped out the flesh
Roasted butternut squash with garlic
Pepitas (roasted seeds)
- Clean seeds from inside the squash.
- Brush with light coating of olive oil.
- Top with salt and pepper.
- Roast in oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
- Top with your favorite dried herbs after it comes out of the oven.
Pepitas – went perfect with a beer
Here are some other favorite ways to eat squash:
- I found this awesome recipe for red pepper and spaghetti squash soup and it is less than 100 calories per serving with 2 grams of fat. This soup goes great with a sandwich for lunch. I would suggest reducing the amount of fennel and adding a splash of hot sauce before eating.
- Instead of using pasta in the buffalo chicken casserole from Eating Well, I used spaghetti squash. Note: I used low-fat blue cheese in the recipe and put some of it in the sauce instead of putting all of the blue cheese on top.
Buffalo chicken casserole over spaghetti squash (AWESOME!)
- I made butternut squash and leak lasagna (Eating Well) but used roasted squash instead of shredded raw squash and evaporated skim milk instead of milk. It was DELICIOUS! I also tried making this casserole by pre-cooking raw spaghetti pasta (not squash) in the white sauce (instead of lasagna noodles) and using that mixture instead of the lasagna noodles/sauce in the layering process.
Casserole before baking (If you are preparing this for an upcoming weekday, you can put it in the refrigerator at this point.)
Makes 12 filling servings – even the finicky girl ate this!
- I made butternut squash and black bean enchilada (Skinnytaste) recipe with some changes. Instead of using cubed squash, I roasted it first and then cut the roasted squash into cubes. I used refried beans instead of black beans. When preparing the filling, I added the refried beans and roasted squash after everything else was cooked. Then, I turned off the stove and I added a splash of broth (or try a scoop of your favorite salsa) to keep the consistency from getting too thick. Instead of stuffing the squash mixture in tortillas before topping with enchilada sauce and cheese before baking, I made this in lasagna form.
- Starting with a greased casserole pan, I started layering in the following order from bottom to top:
- layer of enchilada sauce
- corn tortillas
- squash filling
- thin layer of low-fat cheddar
- corn tortillas
- enchilada sauce
- 2 cups of low-fat cottage cheese (Ellen’s original addition to boost protein)
- squash filling
- rest of enchilada sauce
- thin layer of low-fat cheddar.
Butternut squash and refried bean Mexican lasagna
- New England Squash Soup from my Moosewood Low Fat Favorites Cookbook – If you want to use roasted squash instead of peeled raw squash, add it after the onions, celery, garlic, and potatoes are cooked – and then go ahead with the recipe. I like to use a sweet potato instead of a white potato in this recipe.
Many local farms have all kinds of winter squash this time of year. The butternut squash I bought from a local farm almost smelled like fresh watermelon after my husband cut it open. If any of our readers have tricks to working with squash or recipes to share, please comment below.