Prep - It's easiest to prepare winter squash when you cook them before the skin is removed. Wash squash thoroughly then use a sharp and heavy vegetable knife to cut open. Use a spoon to scrape out seeds and the grainy fibers. If a specific recipe calls for peeling the squash first then use a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler for the task.
In the oven - Pierce the squash with a knife in several places and bake squash whole, or, slice it in half first removing the seeds and fibers. Place in oven cut side up on a ungreased baking pan or dish. If baking in half, add roughly 1/4 ounce water to the bottom of the pan. Add a little butter and sprinkle in a little salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until tender.
On the stove-top - Peel and cut squash into 1-inch cubes. Cover and cook in boiling water 10-15 minutes until squash seems tender when poked with a fork. To steam, place steamer basket in 1/2 inch water in saucepan or skillet then add squash. Cover tightly and heat until boiling; then reduce heat to low. Steam cubes 7-10 minutes.
In the microwave - Pierce whole squash with a knife in several places to allow steam to escape. Microwave uncovered 5 minutes or until squash feels warm to the touch. Slice in half; remove all seeds and fibers. Arrange halves, cut-side down in a shallow microwaveable dish. Microwave about 5-8 minutes longer until tender. Let stand 5 minutes.
A-Z Squash Dictionary
In my opinion, acorn squash are more watery, gritty, and stringier than some other varieties of squash. So I like to roast them cut side up putting butter, brown sugar and sometimes a bit of maple syrup in the hollows to add flavor. Because it's a little less sweet and more fibrous than some other winter squash, it's not my first choice for soup.
Many substitute buttercup squash in any recipe that calls for sweet mashed potato. Or, you can roast it just like you would an acorn squash with cinnamon, brown sugar and maple syrup. It works well in soups, muffins, pies and purees. And in an effort to be fully transparent with you, I really need to add butter and lots of it to buttercup squash otherwise it's too dry for me.
I just like to mash mine as I would a potato and find I never need to add butter to enhance it. It's perfect just boiled and mashed to my taste buds! Due to its starchiness it also makes a great soup too with a bit of onion and a splash of cream. To make butternut squash easier to handle, cut the neck from the body and work with each section separately.
Every Thanksgiving, I get the nomination to peel the hubbard squash and it takes me about a week. But I love it....warts and all. Like butternut squash, hubbard squash are great in soups and pies. And there's more than enough of it use it for all!
Due to its larger size and unique shape makes it difficult to cut. Typically, you want to chop that blossom ended like protrusion off first. Then both that and the round cap can be cut into cubes.
Fun fact? Turban squash shines when baked, roasted, or steamed. Since it is mild consider adding lots of ingredients to add to its flavor including cilantro, nutmeg, cardamom, brown sugar, butter, cream, toasted nuts, pear, apple, chard, corn, kale and parsley. Just don't damage that silly, delicate cap because it's more likely to rot.