Simple Baked Winter Squash

Winter squash: (from left) carnival, butternut, pumpkin, and delicata

This one is for Ronda. Nothing could be simpler than this recipe for baked winter squash. I used carnival, also called dumpling squash recently. (It’s the yellow and green squash on the upper left corner in the photo above.) I did so because the size of the squash was perfect for the amount of puree that I wanted. But you can apply this cooking method to any type of hard winter squash. The other green and yellow squash in the photo is delicata. The bright orange one is called a small pumpkin. The light orange one is butternut. 

Unlike many of my recipes, the instructions here are quite flexible. To begin, preheat your oven to 350-400 degrees. One of the beautiful things about roasting squash is that you can do it at almost any oven temperature. That means you can easily add your squash to the oven while you’re cooking another dish.

Poke Holes in the Squash

Wash the squash, scrubbing it well. Then poke several holes in it using a paring knife or metal skewer. You’re doing this so steam can escape from the squash as it cooks, thus removing the risk that it might explode while cooking.

The cooking time is not exact; it depends on the size of your squash and the heat of your oven. The Carnival squash above weighed 1 1/4 pounds. I baked it for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 400 degrees. So it worked out to 1 hour baking time per pound of squash at 400 degrees. Isn’t that neat and tidy?

Testing Baked Squash

When a knife or skewer inserted into the squash slides in easily without meeting resistance it’s done cooking. Note the browning of the skin of the squash: when you deeply roast your squash to the point of browning you concentrate the flavors and caramelize the sugars in the squash. This makes it really delicious.

After you remove the squash from the oven, remove the stem end from the squash and break it open. Be careful not to burn yourself from the steam escaping!

Break Open the Squash

Scoop the seeds from the inside of the squash using a spoon.

Scoop Seeds From Squash

Then scoop the cooked flesh away from the skin of the squash.

Scoop Squash From Skin

Put the squash in a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of butter, basically to taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Add Butter to Squash

And that’s it. No added sweetener needed. But feel free to add anything to this basic puree. Really, it couldn’t be simpler.

Pureed Squash

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