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The best part of the fall season is the arrival of all the wonderful winter squashes. The hard shell of squash is intimidating to a dull knife. What to do? Microwaving the squash for 10-30 seconds will soften the squash and enable you to cut it open more easily. For more leverage, use a 5-inch boning knife instead of a large chef’s knife to cut a squash in half. Squash has a thick, fibrous skin, so peel the squash with a knife, instead of a vegetable peeler.

To cook squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds (use a pitting spoon), and bake at 350 degrees until tender, about 45 minutes. Then spoon out  the pulp and discard the skin.

Or, peel the squash, cut into cubes, remove the seeds, and steam in a vegetable basket until tender (about 20 minutes). When steamed, the squash will absorb a lot of water, so be sure to let the squash drain in a colander to remove the excess water.

For more squash tips, come to these cooking classes:

  • “Autumn in Piedmont” on Wednesday, Oct 30 with chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Cielo
  • “My Gourd, It’s Squash” on Tuesday, Nov 5 with chef Mickey Kitterman of Gallagher’s
  • “It’s Root-imentary, My Dear” on Tuesday, Nov 5 with chef-owner Nick Miller of Harvest
  • “Weekend Dinner Party: Fork and Pork” on Saturday, Nov 16 with chef Christie Maggi

Most recipes for squash add a lot of sugar. Since squash is naturally sweet, here is a savory, garlicky squash for late fall grilling:

Grilled Acorn Squash

  • Acorn squash, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Salt and pepper

Scoop the seeds out of the squash (use a pitting spoon). Rub with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on the hot grill and grill until browned, about 10 minutes. Turn the squash over and fill with garlic and more olive oil. Grill until tender, about 20 more minutes.