Fall is here and, with it, apples and pears, pumpkins and winter squash, a favorite of mine because it’s delicious and easy to prepare—a fantastic combo for a busy mom! Winter squash are also versatile, nutrient dense and keep for a long time. It’s an ideal family food, and it even makes a great baby food! Check out my time saving tips for prepping and using squash.
Time Saver #1: Buy it Ahead of Time
Fresh winter squash will keep on your counter for several weeks, a nice change of pace from more delicate summer produce.
Time Saver #2: Prep it Ahead of Time
You can also prep squash ahead which is especially nice given that the prep work can take a few extra minutes that you likely don’t have on a busy weeknight. When I know that I’ll be using squash during the week, I peel and cube it on Sunday and pack it raw in a ziplock bag or I roast it ahead of time . . .
Time Saver #3: Roast it Ahead of Time
Roasting squash ahead of time is a big time-saver because it can be used in nearly any recipe, even ones that call for raw squash. In these cases, instead of cooking the raw squash as directed, adjust the recipe to add the already roasted squash in a later step. So, for example, in this Butternut Squash Soup, you’d sautée the onions and spices, and then add the cooked squash and broth at the same time. Once the broth is heated through, in a mere 3 or 4 minutes, puree the soup and you’re done!
You may find that a lot of recipes call for cooking squash just to get to the point of having cooked squash to integrate into the dish. For example, this delicious Pappardelle Pasta with Butternut Squash-Mushroom Sauce calls for you to cook the squash in order to make a puree. In this case, roasting is the suggested cooking method. Even when it isn’t, you can simply pull out your pre-roasted squash, puree and save 40 minutes!
This Kale, Squash & Farro Soup with Chickpeas is another great recipe where you can simply leave squash out of step one and add your pre-roasted squash in the beginning of step four, with just enough time for the veg to heat through and mix well with the other ingredients.
And, by the way, don’t worry about using roasted squash in a recipe that calls for stewed squash, for example. Roasting concentrates squash’s natural sweetness and yields way more flavor than any other cooking method. If anything, using roasted squash will make the recipe even better!
Set time aside this (every!) weekend and prep some butternut squash. You’ll be happy that you did!
Check out this super simple Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe.