Nuking Squash Question
I have some lovely butternut and acorn squash. I usually half and roast them in a baking sheet but since I am only going to use them for soup, can I successfully microwave them? If so, do I clean them first or can I nuke them whole? If so, for how long?
I've never tried it, but I would be slightly hesitant...
First of all, gourds and squash have always been used as storage vessels- they're too air/water tight-get the insides hot enough to steam and probably go BOOM!
I'm not sure cutting it up would solve the problem... for a "wetter" squash like summer yellows or zucchini, the nuking might actually work pretty well- until you get a pile of squash goo... but for the dryer/waxy-er squashes like butternut squash and pumpkin, i think even cubed, the pieces would get leathery or dehydrated before they really cooked.
Perhaps in a shallow pool of water?
It does work, bu you have a point about roasting bringing out sweetness. However microwaving has a fresh clean flavor.
I usually just poke lots of holes in it to let the steam escape and nuke it until a fork pierces it easily. An acorn squash will cook pretty evenly. If doing a butternut squash, the part with the seeds will cook before the solid part, so after that part is done, I'll cut that part off and remove and then let the rest of the squash cook.
Depends on your microwave for how long. For an Acorn squash around 10 minutes ... BUT ... never ... NEVER ... leave the kitchen. If the squash starts whistling, sqeaking or making other noise, there's too much steam building up inside. Pause the microwave for a little and then restart. Otherwise said squash might explode.
I love microwaving because I don't have to deal with pealing and cutting up a hard squash ... nuke ... scoop out seeds ... and continue with recipe or scoop out flesh depending on what you are doing.
An alternate method is to cut in half, put in a dish with a little water and loosely cover with waxed paper and nuke. But that means having to cut a hard squash. If that interests you, this is a GREAT page about everything squash and all sorts of ways to cook it with pictures. Scroll way down for the microwave part ... nice pictures.
FYI, for zucchini or summer squash, use fork to poke holes for steam to escape and nuke for 1 or two minutes then slice. No goo, just nice slices of squash. Also, subject to noises & exploding so must be watched.
Our favorite squash is buttercup which has a thick, tough skin. Microwaving it is much easier and quicker plus the squash is sweeter and tastier since it doesn't overcook in a pot of water. (My family prefers a dry squash and considers most butternut to be too watery.) I usually follow the above recommendations. When it appears done, I remove it from the oven and let it cool enough to handle. Then cut in half, scoop the seeds out, then scoop the flesh out. If it's just my husband and I, I might do a small squash and serve in wedges without taking the skin off.
We just tried delicata squash for the first time so I microwaved it as if it were a potato. Cut it in half, scooped the seeds and served.
With a large squash, if there is any portion that isn't quite cooked I will simply return that portion to the microwave in a glass dish with a bit of water.
Microwaving butternut squash is absolutely simple. Cut it in half vertically, scoop out seeds, place squash halves on a microwave-safe plate, microwave for 10-15 minutes or so until tender. Obviously the timing depends on the size of your squash. I would think acorn would be even easier given that it has higher water content. Be sure to cut the squash before microwaving.
An even simpler way to prepare squash for soup is to steam it. Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen has a brilliant recipe for squash soup which is just butternut squash (about 3 lbs), 6 cups of water, half an onion and half a cup of cream.
Cut squash in half, scoop out all seeds but DO NOT DISCARD! Saute onion in 2 Tbs butter until translucent. Add onions, seeds with attached bits of squash and 6 cups water to largish saucepan or Dutch oven. Place steamer basket (the collapsible metal ones are perfect) over this. Arrange squash on steamer and steam until tender - about 30 minutes. Scoop out squash and discard peel. Strain liquid in bottom of pot. Puree squash with liquid in blender. Return to clean pot and season to taste. Heat to simmer and add cream. It is amazingly good.
i microwave winter squash fairly often as i don't always have the time to roast for 60+ minutes, and while it's true that you don't get quite as sweet an end result it's still a good alternative. my method is to halve the squash, scoop out the filling, brush with olive oil and season, then microwave each half for about 10 minutes (obviously varies depending on size). in the last few minutes, i might add a small pat of butter to the center of the squash. nb: i would NOT do this if i didn't have a microwave with a rotating tray.
I poke it first and microwave it until it's softer and cut it and clean it. The cleaning is a little harder when the flesh is softer but cutting raw squash is too much work. Then I bake it to give it that carmelized roast.
I don't cut squash in half before microwaving. I just pierce it through the middle or wherever the seed cavity is and proceed. This allows the steam to escape and avoids explosions.
All the m/w tips have been spot on. I do the best of both worlds: I microwave to cook it faster (but I don't cook all the way), then oven (high heat) or grill (if it's not raining) to caramelize. BTW, like the others, I cut it in half or fourths, remove seeds, and add a little water before microwaving; it seems poking with holes hasn't worked as well for me.
We always split and clean acorn squash, then microwave them, covered with plastic wrap, filled with a couple of pats of butter and brown sugar. They come out great in about 10 minutes. You won't get the carmelization, but the ease-of-prep tradeoff is worth it.