Help me love squash!
November 2, 2011 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me love squash! Give me your best recipes.

I am trying to eat more local foods and find it difficult in the the winter months. The farmers markets are bursting at the seams with squash and so I think I should give the squash another chance.

I don't really like nutmeg/cinnamon or sweet spices with squash, I prefer savoury. I found this recipe and really like it.

I would love a really good recipe for butternut squash soup. I have had it a few times at restaurants and always enjoy it-- particularly the coconut milk based versions.

What other kinds of squash should I be trying? How to I make them delicious?
posted by sadtomato to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
I LOVE butternut squash soup. It's so easy--saute an onion in about 2 tbsp butter, add chopped and peeled squash, cover with broth (I use a vegetarian chicken soup base), boil. I usually add nutmeg, but you wouldn't have to. Puree (I use an immersion blender). Salt and pepper. You could use a bit less liquid and add some coconut milk at the end for delicious results.

Squash is also delicious in macaroni and cheese.
posted by editrixx at 10:37 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't like sweet squash, either, and I always have to convince myself to cook with it, period. BUT these enchiladas are stellar. I add a can of black beans.
posted by something something at 10:39 AM on November 2, 2011

Australians eat a lot of squash (we call it pumpkin) as a savoury food. Search for pumpkin and you will find a ton of tested, rated recipes!

Some favourites uses for me are using squash in a curry, and making a quiche with squash, bacon, pinenuts and spinach - yum!
posted by unlaced at 10:39 AM on November 2, 2011

We make something like this curried coconut and ginger squash soup. If you put more stuff in it it's more like a stew than a soup (we have put fish in it, and then a squeeze of lime when serving - so very good).
posted by rtha at 10:39 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

My family are big fans of this squash soup recipe. I normally make it with butternut squash, as listed in the ingredients as a substitute for the pumpkin. The only addition I normally make is to add some diced pancetta on top of each bowl along with the rosemary. Some grated parmigiano reggiano is really good too.
posted by sbrollins at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stuffed pasta shells!

Measurements are approximate, but don’t worry, you need not be exact.

- 1/2 pound large pasta shells (you could also use cannelloni)
- 1/2 of a small butternut squash (or any winter squash), about a pound
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups white sauce
- small handful fresh sage leaves
- fresh black pepper and salt to taste
- red pepper chili flakes to taste
- tiny pinch of cinnamon and some nutmeg, if you like
- optional: 4 slices of bacon, fried and diced

To cook:
- Cut the squash into 1″ slices and put on an oiled baking tray. Brush with olive oil, season, and bake at 325° until tender and a little brown on the edges. Cool, strip off any rind if it’s tough, and break into chunks.
- Mix together the squash, mozzarella, minced sage, and ricotta. (Save out a handful of the mozzarella to put on top later). Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can add a little cinnamon and the nutmeg if you like, but I found that the roasted squash was sweet and warm-tasting enough without it. (Add bacon if using.)
- Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and rinse with cool water. (Don’t let them sit around too long before filling them or they’ll all stick together.) Fill each shell with the squash mixture and put in a shallow baking dish.
- Pour on the white sauce and cover with the Parmesan, mozzarella, and more fresh black pepper.
- Bake uncovered at 325° until cheese is well melted.

Try not to eat the whole pan.

Squash and ham stew!

- 1 large yellow onion
- glug of olive oil
- 1/2 a pound or so of pork/ham (I used bacon, but here in the UK bacon is a different from bacon in the US; here it’s much leaner and cut in big, thick slabs) (you could substitute chicken)
- 1 medium winter squash (any type will do, I used an Autumn Cup)
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice (I used basmati)
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- cayenne and salt to taste
- water to cover
- Parmesan cheese to sprinkle (optional)

To cook:
- Cut the pork into small cubes. Brown briefly in a very hot pan, set aside. Pour a little water in the pan to de-glaze it and set aside as well. (You won’t need to do this step if you use chicken.)
- Chop the onion and, in a large soup pot, sauté in olive oil over medium heat until clear. Halfway through, add the rice, stirring occasionally. (This toasts it slightly and enhances the flavour.)
- Crush and add the garlic and the spices, cook for one minute more.
- Have the squash ready: peeled and chopped into small cubes. Add to your pot and enough water to almost cover the squash.
- Add the meat and juices too, bring to a boil, then cover and turn down the heat so you get a slow simmer.
- Stir occasionally, and when the rice is thoroughly done and the stew has thickened quite a bit (over an hour), it’s finished.
- Serve sprinkled with Parmesan, or a dollop of yogurt, to cut the sweetness of the squash.

Roasted squash!

- one small pumpkin or really any kind of winter squash
- olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 or 2 tablespoons fresh sage
- 1 or two tablespoons pecarino cheese (optional)
- nutmeg (optional)
- salt to taste

To cook:
- Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.
- Slice your squash into wedges about 1 1/2″ thick (for most varieties there’s no need to trim off the rind) and lay on a baking sheet.
- Thinly slice the onion and sprinkle on the squash, drizzle olive oil over all, and bake for 10 minutes.
- Flip the squash, sprinkle with thinly sliced garlic and sage (and a little bit of nutmeg, if you like) and bake for another 10 minutes or until quite tender.
- Top with some grated Pecarino and serve hot.

Don’t forget to scrape up some of the onions and garlic and sage; they’ll be slightly burnt and delicious! The leftovers are good cold on top of a salad.

South American squash stew and cornmeal dumplings!

- 1 1/2 large yellow onions
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup green chillies (adjust amount according to the spiciness of your particular peppers)
- 1 1/2 quarts cooked tomatoes and their liquid
- 1 1/4 lbs or so of yellow winter squash (butternut, acorn, something like that)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or chicken stock, if you like)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 pounds zucchini
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 recipe of Kristin’s Cornmeal Dumplings
- 1-2 lbs chicken breast (optional)

To cook:
- Peel and cut the squash into 1/2″ cubes.
- Chop onion and put in a BIG pot with the olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté until clear, then add garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and chilies. Cook for another two or three mintues.
- Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the squash, salt, and water. (Since I like to use whole tomatoes, and chopping them gets messy quickly, I simply put them in the pot, then squeeze each one in my fist until it’s all pulpy. Satisfying, but watch for squirts.)
- Turn up the heat until it boils, then turn down to a nice simmer. Cook for an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, make dumpling batter. (Keep the dry and wet ingredients separate until just before you add to the pot, lest your baking powder employ its oomph too soon.)
- Add sliced zucchini, cilantro, and chicken, stir, and bring back up to a simmer.
- Mix your dumplings together, then spoon in by the heaping tablespoon. (I usually end up with about eight or ten.) Cover and simmer VERY GENTLY for twenty minutes.

Cornmeal dumplings:

- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

To cook:
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Beat egg and cream together and gently stir in.
- Add melted butter and stir. Be careful not to over-mix.
posted by Specklet at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

I do like butternut squash soup, but I also dislike the overly-sweet stuff as well. I actually thought the "quick butternut sqaush soup" recipe from Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" comes closest to what I like -- it's nothing more than roasted squash, pureed with chicken broth and a little garlic and sage. You barely NEED a "recipe" as such.

I've somewhere got the recipe for a "thanksgiving lasagna", which you make just like regular lasagna -- except you swap out the tomato sauce for pureed cooked squash, seasoned with a little garlic and sage. It sounds DELICIOUS. (I think the recipe also calls for alternating some layers of cooked squash with some layers of chopped-up sauteed mushroom as well, and they add some chopped cooked spinach to the ricotta cheese. There are a few recipes like this out there, I believe.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2011

Oh! Another recipe I've found is to make Irish stew, (nothing more than lamb, potatoes, some carrots and broth) except you swap out the potatoes with squash chunks. I made this for myself one Thanksgiving when I was gonig to be by myself and it was wonderful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on November 2, 2011

This recipe for pasta with butternut parmesan sauce is amazing.

posted by ephemerista at 10:49 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Never underestimate the awesomeness of simply roasted vegetables.

Cut the squash in half (or quarters, whatever), scoop out the goopy stiff from the middle, lay them on a cookie sheet (line it with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up), brush with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with kosher or sea salt. Roast in the oven at 350 until they're done. Maybe 20 minutes or so. Give 'em a poke every few minutes When they're soft enough, they're done.

You can then eat them right out of the skin or scoop it out and serve it. This is also a good way to make a filling for butternut squash ravioli.
posted by bondcliff at 10:49 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Virtually any combination of pumpkin or butternut squash with sage and bacon (and the standards like [garlic, onion, or shallot] olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, &c) and pasta will be delicious.

If for instance you put the pumpkin & bacon into ravioli, you can serve it with browned butter and sage sauce. Move the sage inside the ravioli and change to a cream sauce. Roast the squash &c. and toss with farfalle and olive oil.

You can also add squash puree to tomato sauce to sweeten it up a bit.

You can add squash puree to your bechamel sauce when making homemade mac & cheese.

If instead of pouring the puree + bechamel + cheese sauce over macaroni, you fold stiff egg whites into it, you can make a pumpkin cheese souffle (nutmeg and cayenne are your friends here).
posted by gauche at 10:52 AM on November 2, 2011

this is rich, but delicious:

Winter Squash Gratin with Sage, Cream, and Parmesan

Peel, seed, and cube winter squash. Chop a solid handful of fresh sage, or use tablespoon or so of dried sage. Toss the sage and the squash together with maybe a little salt and pepper put it in a gratin dish, and pour in heavy cream to come halfway up the sides. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for a half hour, then take the foil off and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the squash is soft. Take it out of the oven, scatter a goodly quantity of parmesan on top, and let the residual heat melt the cheese. Serve and eat.

If you're not veggie, you can add cubed ham and make this your main dish. Actually I guess it's a pretty good main dish on its own if you ARE veggie.

My other go-to is sausage-stuffed squash:

you need 2 moderate acorn squashes or 1 large one. Cut the squashes in half and scoop out the guts, but don't peel. Stuff each squash with the sausage mixture, which is:

1 lb Italian sausage
1 egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
half a cup or so of plain breadcrumbs, enough to make it stiff but not crumbly

Bake at 350 for an hour. If you do a large one, this will feed two lumberjacks or teenage boys. If you do two moderate ones, this will feed four office workers or general gadabouts.
posted by KathrynT at 10:53 AM on November 2, 2011

This is a pretty good butternut squash recipe - it's been a pretty good hit with the kids.
posted by plinth at 10:55 AM on November 2, 2011

My two favorites:

Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette (people go CRAZY for this and it's not sweet at all)

Butternut Squash Apple Soup (cooks in 30 minutes and only has the teeniest amount of nutmeg, which you could easily leave out)
posted by jrichards at 10:59 AM on November 2, 2011

I love squash, and we've been eating a lot of it lately from our CSA, so I have a lot of recipes to recommend!

Here is the start of a slideshow of winter squash recipes (if you hover over the pictures at the bottom, you can see the recipe names for each picture). From this slideshow, I have had and enjoyed:
Chickpea, Spinach and Squash Gnocchi
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chard and White Beans
Bean and Butternut Tacos with Green Salsa
Roasted Winter Vegetables with Cheesy Polenta
Winter Squash Risotto
Roasted Pear-Butternut Soup with Crumbled Stilton

This Curried Squash and Chicken Soup recipe has coconut milk and calls for frozen pureed squash, but obviously you can roast and puree your own squash for it.
posted by amarynth at 11:06 AM on November 2, 2011

The Seattle Times food reviewer, Nancy Leson, posted this recipe a few weeks ago. It's made with delicata squash, a cute little green and white striped squash that I always thought was a decorative gourd. Made it for a party and it was a major sensation with everyone. Simple too: 3 ingredients.
posted by lois1950 at 11:06 AM on November 2, 2011

My Grandma's squash "pudding" (actually a casserole) has been featured in numerous vegetarian and kosher cookbooks, and never fails to win over the squash-ambivalent:

3 lbs. yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 eggs
1 stick margarine
1 T. sugar
salt, pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs

Scrub (not peel) squash. Slice into rounds. Boil for 15 minutes. Put in colander to drain for 15 - 20 minutes. Squeeze out extra water. In bowl, mash together squash and onions. Add beaten eggs, sugar, margarine. (save enough to grease pan). Salt and pepper to taste. Mix in 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Over top, sprinkle 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

You can sub in any squash for the yellow squash. If you use another summer squash, keep the proportions the same. If you use a winter squash, use a little over three pounds, and caramelize the onion.
To make this kosher for Passover, use matzo meal instead of breadcrumbs, works well.
Don't use butter, the margarine is required for consistency.
Recipe easily doubles.
You can make-ahead the squash/onion/egg/margarine mixture and put it in the fridge, but don't add the bread crumbs until you're ready to bake.
posted by juniperesque at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Peanut-Butternut Squash soup
posted by unixrat at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2011

The other night I cubed a butternut squash, tossed it with olive oil and salt, and cooked it for a while in a covered pan. After it softened up and released a little liquid, I tossed it with some curry paste, and turned the heat up to brown it. Good stuff.

I had plenty left over, so last night I turned it into a salad with scallions, mint leaves, roasted pecans, and blue cheese. Just a bit more oil and a couple of squeezes of lemon. Dynamite.
posted by neroli at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2011

This is a simple recipe for a pumpkin/squash curry.
500g Pumpkin/squash
1 onion finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 or 2 fresh green chillies, sliced
0.5 tsp fenugreek seeds
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black mustard seeds
small handful curry leaves
approx. 500ml stock
approx 100ml coconut cream or decent chunk of creamed coconut.
Salt to taste
Peel and chop the pumpkin.
Fry the mustard seeds until they begin to pop, then add the onion, garlic and chilli and fry until onion is soft and golden. Add turmeric and fenugreek sees, fry for a minute more, then add the pumpkin chunks and get them well-coated with turmeric.
Add stock and curry leaves, simmer until the squash is soft.
Dump in the coconut cream/creamed coconut at the last minute and stir in. Leave off heat for five minutes, salt to taste and serve.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2011

Wow you guys are amazing! I knew I could count on you! I should have mentioned that I'm vegetarian, but it's not a big deal because Mr. Sadtomato is not.

Also, there are so many varieties of squash available right now and I'm told they all have distinct flavours. Are there specific recipes for acorn, buttercup, turban, or carnival squash or can I use what ever I get my hands on?
posted by sadtomato at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2011

Peel and cube butternut squash. Toss with olive oil, salt, maybe a little cinnamon. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil; place squash pieces on baking sheet. Bake for 40-ish minutes at 400 degrees. (Keep an eye on it; every time I do this it seems to take a different amount of time. Also, make sure your cubes are of uniform size, or otherwise the small pieces will be more cooked than the big pieces.) Remove from oven. Easy cleanup -- you just throw out the foil. People are way too impressed when I make this.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Funny you should post this -- I just made butternut squash for lunch!

Winter squash tends to be more interchangeable than not. There are subtle differences, sure, but if a squash is radically different than the other kinds in preparation (spaghetti, for instance), it should be clear.

Lots of good recipes here; to those, I'll add that cayenne pepper goes REALLY well with baked winter squash if you want savory. Err toward over-cooking than under-cooking; ideally, you want the pieces to caramelize a bit.

And if all else, including vegetarianism, fails, there's always sausage.
posted by dekathelon at 12:04 PM on November 2, 2011

This recipe is a great substitute for pad thai, using spaghetti squash instead.

It's a different taste slightly, but I actually prefer it!
posted by egeanin at 12:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look for a recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto. So delicious.
posted by CathyG at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

unixrat, your link for peanut-butternut soup is blocked for people who aren't registered with SA.

and i wants that recipe i does it may be my preciousss i wants it yes i does
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2011

I asked a similar question for a variety of winter squash a couple years ago and min's Bengali suggestion has become one of my bar-none favourite recipes evar. If you like the idea of pumpkin pie cranked up a spicy notch, or two, you'll probably like this recipe. It asks for some harder to source spices (nigella and fenugreek) which I have, but honestly? Neither adds much to the taste so I skip them.
posted by squeak at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2011

I take butternut squash, onion, and ground chorizo and make a kind of breakfast hash.
posted by travis08 at 1:40 PM on November 2, 2011

I'm fairly sure I've posted this roasted squash and peppers recipe on AskMe before, but it's yummy enough to do it again.

Start with:
- 1 large butternut squash cut into 1" chunks
- 3 peppers cut into 1" chunks (use a mix of red, yellow, green if you can - looks mixed with the squash... use more peppers if they're very small)
- As much garlic as you will find enjoyable, sliced or chopped finely
- A good amount of fresh rosemary, chopped.

Mix all the above in a large bowl then pour over at least a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and stir to make sure everything is coated with oil.

Dump into a roasting tin or glass lasagna pan.

Sprinkle over the top a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Freshly grated is best.

Bake at about 350 or 375 for approximately 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and everything is nicely starting to look roasted. Enjoy.

Thanks for posting the question and to everyone above for answers. I look forward to trying some of them this weekend... it's been too long since I made butternut squash soup.
posted by valleys at 1:42 PM on November 2, 2011

Here's something you can improvise with:

Slice some onions into rings and separate them.

Halve and seed some squash and put it in the oven to roast.

While the squash is roasting, saute the onions in oil and a spice/herb mixture such as:
- Sage and thyme. Very Thanksgiving.
- Cumin and coriander, other curry-like combinations.
- Cayenne or chili powder.

Keep cooking the onions until they are soft beyond soft. Salt and pepper to taste.

When everything is done, you can:
- Spoon some onions into each squash half and eat as is. Works best with a variety like Delicata. Consider adding leftover cooked rice or some other stuffing-like thing to the mix.
- Mash the roasted squash with butter, salt, and pepper, serve with the onions on top.
- Puree the whole mess with some soup stock, garnish with creme fraiche and some spices or fresh herbs that match the flavor profile.
posted by expialidocious at 2:07 PM on November 2, 2011

Chop up a butternut pumpkin/(or squash as those in the US call it). Par boil it for about 5 minutes, toss it in olive oil and stick it in the oven at around 375 until its nice and brown. I love Roast Pumpkin. In winter I will do a mix of potatoes, squash and onions roasted in the oven and serve it with steak or even nicer roasted around a chook (chicken) delicious.

Everyone laughs at me until they try it but use the left over roast pumpkin on a pizza base with toasted pine nuts and caramelized onions and not too much cheese and cook like you would any pizza. Yummo.

Also if you are game it makes a nice ravioli, but I can never be bothered making the pasta, I just buy the fresh (and soft not dried) lasagne sheets and use that instead, stick it down with water and trim. A good way to use up pumpkin puree, mix with a bit of nutmeg and cheese or whatever takes your fancy. Every thinks I slaved for hours making pasta, but it takes like 10 minutes ones you've boiled up and mashed the squash/pumpkin.

Speaking of which you can eat it like mashed potatoes as well.
posted by wwax at 2:30 PM on November 2, 2011

Seconding the Smitten Kitchen Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette. We made it recently, and could not stop eating it. It removed that whole sweet squash... thing... in favor of actual deliciousness. I was about ready to put that vinaigrette on everything. I still might.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:43 PM on November 2, 2011

Acorn squash. Oven at 375F. Cut in half from north to south pole; scoop out the seeds. Then cut across in 1/4 inch or so slices. You will get these fantastic scalloped slices....wah, so beauty. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some Cyprus flake salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden; 20 minutes? You can turn them midway through, but they will cook fine without turning if you prefer to use the roasting time to get a head start on some wine. Make it happen faster by turning up heat, but not too much or the sugars will make the squash burn; if you increase the heat, keep a close eye on it. The sugar content results in a caramelized exterior that is savory from the salt, and the inside still has the lovely smooth consistency of a steamed squash.

I'll be honest: one small acorn squash prepared this way and a decent glass of Malbec make a fantastic dinner for one. You can eat the skin. (If you are squeamish about the skin and have a dog, my little canine companion went nuts over the skin. Truly. I was worried he'd attack me and take the rest.) For two, we have an acorn squash with pasta and a bit of meat. For 3-4, this can make a lovely, easy garnish-type addition to many a winter meal.

Similarly, for a quick meal that's more saucy (good with rice), start by cutting the squash the same way, but then halve each slice so they are more bite-sized, saute in some canola oil over medium until lightly browned, and add a can of coconut milk and +- 1 Tbps of curry paste of your choice (to taste), stirring until combined. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve with rice. Really, really good. Oh yes.
posted by bloggerwench at 10:10 PM on November 2, 2011

Squash puff
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:42 AM on November 3, 2011

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