How To Prepare Squash

When learning how to prepare squash, it's important to understand that not all squashes are created equal. Summer squash is soft and can be prepared easily, but winter squash is harder, oftentimes with skin so thick and hard you have to resort to using a saw. But even winter squash with its tough skin and hard inner flesh can be baked, roasted, boiled and steamed to perfection. In fact, every part of the squash-from the leaves to the shoots can be eaten.

Squash is best when cooked, but summer squash is soft enough to eat raw with dip, if you so choose. The easiest way to cook this vegetable is to fry it, but baked squash or roasted squash is delicious and well worth the wait.

Fried Summer Squash
Summer squash and zucchini are good when sliced thin and fried in a little butter with salt and pepper. Some people prefer breading the slices first. To bread the squash, simply dip it into a milk or egg mixture, and then press it into breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs. The Southern version is to dip the sliced squash into a milk bath. Then cover each slice with cornmeal, and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Fry the squash until golden brown on both sides. Drain and enjoy.

Baked Squash
Squash that is baked is usually cut in half or quartered. One method is to place the squash, cut side down, on a shallow pan, pierce the skin at intervals with a fork, and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Steamed Squash
Squash can easily be steamed in the microwave. To steam squash, you'll want to add at least 1 cup of water to a shallow dish. Cut the squash in half, and prick as noted above. Place the squash cut side down in the dish, and microwave for about 10 minutes. Check the squash often, but be careful of the steam because it can burn you.

Roasted Squash
Squash can be cubed and then layered-no thicker than two layers-in a shallow casserole dish and baked for about 30 to 45 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Tossing the cubes with equal parts butter and olive oil and then adding garlic to the mixture creates a wonderful seasoning for roasted squash. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. If roasting it in slices, lay the slices on a prepared cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until the exposed flesh begins to weep or become slightly caramelized. The squash will be sweeter if it is drier, so try to roast the squash until most of the water has evaporated.

Grilled Squash
For ease, cut the squash into slices that are about one inch thick. Lay the slices on a piece of tin foil, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with spices and add a slice or two of bacon to the top of the squash. Wrap with foil, and grill for about 10 minutes per side over medium heat. (Because all grills heat differently, be attentive and adjust cooking time as needed.)

Boiled Squash
To boil squash, simply wash the squash, remove the seeds and then remove the peeling. Cut the peeled squash into pieces, and place the pieces into boiling water. Boil until the squash becomes soft. Drain, add butter and maple syrup and serve piping hot.

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