How Do You Squish Your Squash?
Piles of super-cheap gourds at the grocery, a morning chill in the air, and some delicious looking round-up posts can only mean one thing: squash season is upon us. While my husband is partial to butternut (particularly as soup), I embrace all winter squash varieties, from spaghetti to acorn to pumpkin (read: not just for jack o’lanterns, eaters). Reading Snebbu’s post about ways to use butternut squash the other day got me thinking, though…squash is not always the easiest to cook with. It requires more time and advanced planning than my other go-to produce items of the season, apples. So I thought I’d share my tried and true squash preparation method, and then see if you all had any suggestions to add.
Now, you may be aware that it is possible, particularly in the case of butternut squash, to peel the raw squash, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into chunks, then cook. I do not like this method for several reasons. First, peeling a big, unwieldy, rock-hard vegetable is a slippery pain. Secondly, I end up with this weird sticky sap on my hands. Third, half the time I have to peel it a second time to remove the stringy green layer. If I fail to plan ahead and absolutely must have cubes of squash in the next half-hour, I’ll suck it up and use this method, but I avoid it if I can. Instead, I use a method introduced to me by my mom years ago.
What I prefer to do is this:
1) Cut a small slice off one end of the squash so it can sit upright without rolling.
2) Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds (and accompanying goo) with a spoon.
3) Place both halves, cut side down, in a glass baking dish with a half-inch of water mixed with 2 T olive oil. (This keeps the cut side from drying out or sticking to the pan.)
4) Bake until squash reaches desired softness. If I am going to use the squash for something firmer, like pizza, I cook it until a fork slides in easily. For softer dishes, like soup, I just back that sucker until it basically collapses.
5) Remove from oven. Depending on doneness, either slice squash and remove skin with a knife, or use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.
Now you have a lovely bowl full of cooked squash at your disposal, ready and willing to be used for just about anything, up to and including dessert.
So, ESers, what about you? Any tips to offer on squash squishing?