Fall Squash for Singletons

Fall has blustered in. Stores are brimming with a bounty of big beautiful squash too large for just one, what’s a gal to do? The best autumnal squash are also annoying to cook in a single portion. The solution, then, is to cook the entire squash – whether butternut, acorn, kabocha, spaghetti, delicata, or even honeynut if you can find it, lucky! – all at once and then add it to your meals throughout the week. It’s great as either a perfect side dish (with a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon, or more exotically with a sprinkling of ras el hanout) or as a great addition to other dishes. Having the precooked squash just waiting to go turns your weeknight dinners into a delicious snap!

The best cooking methods are either roasting or steaming the squash, and how you intend to use the squash will dictate which method you choose. Roasting makes squash more dense and results in caramelized edges, a pleasant texture that keeps the pieces of squash more distinct and works well as a side just on its own. Steaming, on the other hand, results in a softer texture that beautifully stirs into and thickens sauces, soups, and stews. Recipes suggestions for using roasted or steamed squash in Dairy-Free Mac & “Cheese”, Vegan Acorn Squash Marinara, Beef & Apple Stew, and Farro Risotto are included below!

Fall Squash for Singletons

  • Servings: 1+
  • Difficulty: Easy
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The methods for roasting and steaming are the same regardless of type of squash but may require some adjustment in the cook time depending on the thickness and denseness of the squash you are using – focus on the softness of the squash more than the times given. Leave the skins on for ease of prep and to help hold things together until ready to use, then just scoop the flesh out of the skin with spoon. Keep in mind the variations of flavors and textures among these lovely squash – spaghetti squash is the most savory and is noodle-y, kabocha tends to be slightly sweet but more velvety, acorn squash is lightly sweet with a looser texture, and butternut/honeynut/delicata tend to be sweetest and firmest.

Roasting Method

Preheat oven to 400º F. Give the outer skin of the scrub to clean. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon, making sure to scrape out any stringy pulp in the cavity. Cut into 3″ pieces and toss lightly in olive oil (except for spaghetti squash, which you should leave in halves). Scatter evenly on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and sprinkle with a scant pinch of salt.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the squash. When it is done, the edges will be starting to darken and caramelize and the flesh will be soft when pricked with a paring knife. Remove from oven and lightly fold the pieces of squash inside the aluminum foil while it cools.

Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze. Scoop or cut out of the skins to use (except for spaghetti squash, which should have its fibrous strands scraped out horizontally with a fork).

Steaming Method

Fill a large pot with enough water to reach just the bottom of a steamer basket and bring to a boil, covered, over high heat. Give the outer skin of the scrub to clean. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon, making sure to scrape out any stringy pulp in the cavity. Cut into 3″ pieces and place in the steamer with the interior concave cavity facing downwards so as not to accumulate water (except for spaghetti squash, which you should leave in halves).

Steam for 10-15 minutes, covered, or until the flesh of the squash is soft when pierced with a paring knife. Turn the burner off and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before removing the steamer from the pot. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days or freeze. Scoop or cut out of the skins to use (except for spaghetti squash, which should have its fibrous strands scraped out horizontally with a fork).

Dairy-Free Mac & “Cheese” à la My Mom

Servings: 1+   Prep Time: 5 minutes   Cook Time: 10 minutes   Difficulty: Easy  

The alchemy of kabocha and mustard surprised me in this entirely dairy-free pasta sauce that tasted so similar to my Mom’s macaroni and cheese. When I was a kid, she just made a white sauce and stirred in sharp cheddar, and we thought it was the best in the world! Here, the mustard mimics the sharpness of cheddar while the kabocha adds the perfect flavor and results in a thick cream-like sauce. This recipe could easily be made vegan if you a substitute a very flavorful vegetable stock and chickpea/red lentil pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 of a medium kabocha, steamed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pasta, like macaroni, shells, or pipe rigate – cooked per package directions

Directions


Heat extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the diced onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and stir in Dijon mustard. Bring to a simmer and stir in steamed kabocha until the sauce is smooth and thick, mashing any persistent chucks with the back of the spoon. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Stir in cooked pasta and enjoy!

Vegan Acorn Squash Marinara

Servings: 1+   Prep Time: 5 minutes   Cook Time: 10 minutes   Difficulty: Easy  

This quick vegan sauce uses the sweetness of acorn squash to great effect and is easy to throw together with a supermarket marinara sauce. Instead of buying one of those huge jars for just one person, look for a nice brand of “pizza sauce” (my fave is S.M.T.), which are consistently available in the much more reasonable 14-ounce size and are a useful, flavorful sugo to have in your pantry! Add a slug of red wine and a touch of cinnamon for an even more hearty result. Healthy and comforting, this sauce pairs perfectly with any shape of your favorite chickpea or red lentil pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 to 1/2 jar of pizza sauce
  • 1/2 of an acorn squash, steamed or roasted
  • Flavor to taste – a splash of red wine, cinnamon, or herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach, finely sliced
  • Vegan pasta of your choice, cooked per package directions
  • Fresh basil, ripped, to garnish

Directions


Heat extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan and sauté the diced onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add pizza sauce and then stir in the acorn squash. Season with wine, cinnamon, or other spices. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked pasta and add the fresh spinach, stirring until it is just wilted. Garnish generously with fresh basil and enjoy!

Beef & Apple Stew

My Beef & Apple Stew calls for a full steamed acorn squash to thicken the warm and comforting stew, just perfect for a cozy Sunday dinner. But, it would be equally delish with any other steamed or roasted squash (except spaghetti, whose texture is just wrong for stews), so have fun with it!

Farro Risotto

Add any steamed or roasted squash to my quick and easy Farro Risotto for a an even more delicious dinner or side dish!

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