Quick meals with a winter squash

Yesterday for lunch I wanted something quick, healthy and filling.  I’ve been busy this week and spending time in the kitchen wasn’t high on my priority list.  The perfect solution?  Winter squash.

I love to keep squash around the house for impromptu meals.  They are healthy, filling, a breeze to prepare and super versatile.  They also last for forever and are beautiful, so I can proudly display them in our little kitchen for months.

To cook a squash I poke it a dozen or so times with the tip of a sharp knife all around its body.  Then I stick it in the microwave for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, I check to see if it feels soft on all sides (make sure you cover your hand with a kitchen towel or mitt before you grab it!).  It usually needs a couple more minutes and needs to be rotated (the side on the bottom tends to cook more quickly).  The final cooking time will vary depending on the squash and the microwave.  As a warning, while cooking squash in the microwave is easy and quick, it never seems to be totally even.  Some parts of the squash may be a little over cooked or under cooked.  If I were preparing squash for company (as opposed to a quick lunch), I’d probably think about cooking it in the oven.

After the squash is soft all over, I pull it out and slice it in half.  Then I scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  If you’re feeling ambitious, you could save the seeds and roast them on a cookie sheet for a snack later in the day.

Next, I poke around my fridge and find something to stick in the hollow left from the seeds.  Yesterday I happened to have leftover wheat berries, cherry tomatoes and a tiny bit of gorgonzola.  Almost anything will work here: leftover rice, quinoa, broccoli, veggie sausage…

After loading the squash up, I drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkle it with salt.  The final product: a satisfying, healthy meal with about 3 minutes of active work on my part (poking holes in the squash, scooping out the seeds and spooning leftovers in).

 

What happens to the other half of the squash?  I could have shared it with Alex, but he was out and about.  Instead, I put it in the fridge for the night, reheated it in the morning for breakfast and topped it with maple syrup.  Other fun toppings might be Greek yogurt, grated apple and dried cranberries or raisins.  If you haven’t tried it before, squash for breakfast is the greatest!  It’s somehow light and filling at the same time.

How do you use winter squash?

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