Squash are really beautiful and colourful at this time of year and there really is only one way to cook squash (aka gourd, aka pumpkin depending upon where you live and the specific species and variety) and that is to roast them. Even if you are making squash or pumpkin soup or pie – roast the squash first. This will bring you flavour rewards with the nutty, sweet depth of flavour rather than the watery flavoured slush if you boil them.
I have cooked three types of mini squash here several different ways and this is a starting point for savoury and sweet dishes. I cannot tell you the specific species or variety of squash here as they were sold as assorted edible squash. This basic preparation will stand you in good stead for many dishes. The roasted squash also freeze well for use later in the year when out of season.
The key is to keep the preparation and cooking simple. Just cut the squash to size, give a light coating of rapeseed or other vegetable oil (not olive oil the oven temperature is too high and olive oil with burn and smoke), season and roast. There are many types of seasoning that go well with squash – sage is also wonderful – the below is for inspiration. The size of the slices will affect how long the squash takes to cook and how much sugar is released and baked. The size, bakking temperature and time will all affect the final flavour.
Cooking squash with the skin on retains moisture and flavour. You can eat most squash skins – with the exception of the larger tougher, thicker skins – and they are pretty tasty and add texture. But if you do want to remove the squash skins they come off very easily once roasted and cooled.
The savoury seasoning of rosemary and chilli I have used here is great with a gluten free pasta dish, served with other roasted seasonal vegetables or made in to a soup… Unseasoned you can use is sweet dishes.
The best bit of the squash are the seeds. DO NOT THROW THE SEEDS AWAY! The seeds are full of useful minerals and are delicious, nutty and moreish.
Preparation time 10 mins
Cooking time 50 mins
3 mini squash of your choice
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or more depending upon the size of your squash)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 dried red chilli (optional – leave out for nightshade free or reduce if you don’t like heat)
1 tablespoon Maldon sea salt
0.5 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Method – Roasted Squash
1. Preheat oven to 210 C. Clean the squash and slice. I have taken a different approach for all three. Two I have sliced ‘around the equator’ and one I have sliced from the ‘north to south pole’ – how you prepare will depend upon your preference and how you will use the squash
2. Scoop out the seeds and place them in a small bowl – do not throw them away (see cooking instructions below). These really are the best (and most nutritious) part of the squash. Slice the squash if you wish too. I have sliced one into eight
3. Finely chop around two sprigs of fresh rosemary and one whole dried chilli
4. Take each bit of squash and coat in the rapeseed oil. I find the easiest way to do this is put a tablespoon or so in the palm of your hands, pick up the squash and rub the oil in. You want to coat the inside and outside of the squash
5. Place the squash in a roasting tin and sprinkle two of the squash liberally with the rosemary and chilli and salt and pepper. The other squash I will leave unseasoned as I will be making a pudding with this
6. Place in the oven for 50 minutes. Check the squash after 40 minutes as varying sizes will take different times to cook
7. Once golden and very soft remove from oven and cool. Ready to eat as a side or in a whole host of delicious recipes.
Method – Roasted Squash Seeds
1. Whilst the squash (as method above) is baking take the seeds from all the squash and add a tablespoon of oil and mix to lightly coat the seeds
2. Season with left over rosemary and chilli and salt and pepper. Or with a seasoning of your choice tamari and chilli also works really well
3. Spread evenly on a flat baking sheet and bake in the same oven as the squash (210C) for 10-15 until dark and crispy
4. We usually eat them fresh from the oven but they keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days.