Practical squash 101

Confession: We Zooks are not exactly what you would call squash-eaters.

Winter-squash-eaters, that is.

I like summer squash. I like the idea of winter squash, so I cook it now and then. But the reality I find something of a let-down—the claustrophobic cottony texture, like a mouthful of fur and mush.

I’ve had half a butternut squash lumping along in the back of my refrigerator for a surprising number of weeks. I gave it the old “What squash? I don’t see any squash…” treatment, punctuated by an occasional anxious glance to see if it was going bad yet. I hate throwing away food—I said that before. But food-that-never-goes-bad-no-matter-how-long-you-ignore-it is even more troubling.

Finally I marked it in my planner on Wednesday’s evening menu: SQUASH BAKE. What kind I knew not. I planned to cross that bridge after I burned it.

When the time came (Thursday night, actually—I managed to put it off one day longer), I dug out one of my favorite go-to cookbooks: The Practical Produce Cookbook, created by Ray and Elsie Hoover.

I chose a simple recipe—not a bake after all, but a sauté that looked appealing–and started peeling and grating. Unfortunately, the grating took forever. I have much patience for recipes that offer 15 detailed steps—none at all for standing in place and doing the same motion for 15 minutes together. I recommend a Salad Master or such like, if the gods have graced you…

The really incredible guilty secret about this food is that you sauté squash, butter, salt, and pepper, nothing else—and then add a drizzle of cream. A rather large drizzle of cream.

The flavor is astonishing—a little WOW when you put it in your mouth. With so few ingredients, each is at its best. With the grated texture, you don’t experience that choky sensation. And both my boys liked it. Ka-ching!

Here’s the recipe, credit to the Hoovers. See photo above.


Sautéed Squash

2 to 2 ½ lb. winter squash, peeled and coarsely grated

3 T. butter

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large skillet. Add squash and stir until well coated. Season to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until squash is softened but not mushy.

After squash is cooked, stir in

1 T. butter

½ cup cream

Serve immediately.


We ate it with homemade Salisbury Steaks and Caprese Salad, feeling very proud and accomplished for eating so many Named foods in one meal–as opposed to Shloop on a Plate, Mom’s Down-Home Goulash Comprised Chiefly Of Leftovers.

What else do you do with winter squash? The 101 in my post title means you have to help me come up with more than a single recipe.

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11 years ago

We overdid it a little in the butternut squash department this year and harvested a heaping wheelbarrow full! Thankfully, I have a coupla recipes that my fam loves and I use it often. Switch a cup of milk in your favorite baked oatmeal recipe with a cup of pureed squash and add 2 t of pumpkin pie spice. My latest favorite!
Do the same in your favorite pancake recipe, use whole wheat flour instead of regular and add some mini chocolate chips. And I love a good butternut squash curry soup but I always end up eating that by myself.

11 years ago
Reply to  Lynnelle

My favorite way to eat squash is this: Take the frozen butternut squash (from Lynnelle) out of the freezer, defrost, and make it into pumpkin whoopie pies.

11 years ago

My Grandma Hertzler used to chunk up the butternut squash & put it in a baking pan with a few pats of butter, then bake it till it was soft before melting Velveeta cheese over the top. I thought it was wonderful when I was a girl, and I still make it that way sometimes. But I also throw it in alongside potatoes & onions and fry it all in a skillet (sometimes adding ham or bacon or sausage). I’ve also mashed it with potatoes: a good way to get extra vitamins into pickier eaters. And you can replace sweet potatoes with butternut squash in your classic Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole—the texture is much smoother than sweet potatoes & there’s no difference in flavor or color.

Rosanna H
11 years ago

We like the Whipped Butternut Squash recipe from the Practical Produce cookbook – the bit of brown sugar and dash of nutmeg are great. And no grating! Although peeling it is still a chore. But if you despise the ‘mush’ texture, it’s probably not so much for you.

Shari Zook
11 years ago

You guys are great! I know why I asked you…

I just found this recipe from Home Joys and would like to try it with squash.

11 years ago

No clue what to do with squash, but your writing is the best. “I planned to cross that bridge after I burned it.”…so funny! Thanks for the heads up though about a new squash recipe ~ I never had an old squash recipe so this makes a total of one. Have a great weekend ~

11 years ago

I baked some the other day that did not get done. The next day I peeled and chopped it in bite size pieces. Sauteed a large onion and a ton of garlic, added the squash and a sliced ring of kielbasa. Salt and pepper well. Use lots of butter. Good food!

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

My mom used a similar recipe only without the cream, and she would fry it up with onions the onions gave it a great flavor.

11 years ago

Our absolute fav way to eat squash is to cut in half, scoop out seeds, and pack tightly with sausage, including a thin line of sausage down the “neck” part of the squash where there is not a groove necessarily. Bake covered with foil in oven with a bit of water in the bottom of your pan for steam . . . Serve and ENJOY . . . my squash hating hubby will even eat it this way with some degree of tolerance. 😉 My kids all love it!

11 years ago

I get out my trusty “Simply in Season” cookbook and try another of their “butter-nut squash\sweet potato etc.” soups- they have several and all I’ve tried are good. Running it through the blender gives it a deliciously smooth texture. My husband has also tried “squash pizzas.” We decided that it was good, as long as you didn’t try to call it pizza.

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