Master This Seasonal Vegetable: Winter Squash
One of the secrets to eating well is eating seasonally. Visit local farmer’s markets (LA has great ones) and take advantage of the ingredients that are currently in abundance—the ones that are really at their best right now.
For instance, if you hit up the farmer’s market any time soon, you’re going to find plenty of winter squash. Now, that may be an ingredient you haven’t worked with much before, but not to worry: Once you learn your way around it, you’ll be ready to use it in a wide number of delicious winter dishes.
Working with Winter Squash
So, what do you need to know about working with winter squash? Allow us to offer some tips:
- The weight and shape of winter squash make it notoriously difficult to cut, but you can stabilize your cutting board by placing a damp towel underneath it.
- Use the right knife, too: Something long, something sharp, and not a bread knife. A chef’s knife, measuring at least eight inches, is going to be the best bet.
- Before you do anything else, trim off the toughest parts of the squash—the stem and the roots (that is, the top and the bottom).
- Cut vertically rather than horizontally—a much more efficient way of making the squash manageable.
- As you peel the squash, reach for a good knife, not a peeler, which will simply take too long. (Be careful of your fingers, of course!)
- Note that you can also use a melon baller to get rid of the seeds and the gunk inside the squash.
- A final recommendation: If you find that your squash is hard to work with, you can always bake it for 10 minutes or so to soften it considerably. Just make sure to use an oven mitt when you resume cutting.
What to Make with Winter Squash
That’s how you can maneuver around this tough-but-rewarding ingredient—but what do you do with it from there? An armload of amazing recipes is just one Google search away, but we’ll say that we especially love winter squash when it’s stir fried; grilled or roasted and added to a salad; or even mashed down and used as pie filling.
Learn your way around it, then get creative. Lean into the seasonal ingredients that are so easy to find, and you’ll be well on your way to a richer and more robust diet, year-round.