Squash is one of the best parts of the changing culinary season, its colorful arrival screams autumn. Still, some cooks steer clear of butternut, hubbard, acorn, spaghetti and loads of squash varieties, and that comes down to the basic prep. It's a royal pain, right?

Whole and cut butternut squash
Photo by Meredith
| Credit: Meredith

It takes the strength and skill of a tree surgeon to split some squash. Even the most seasoned cook might feel as if they're risking the loss of a finger when trying to cut a squash to extract the seeds, no matter how sharp the knife. So, go ahead and skip that step. That's right. Prick the surface of a whole squash like it's a potato you're going to bake and place it in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until a knife slides easily into the flesh. Let it cool and then split it in half and remove the seeds and it's recipe ready. So. Darn. Easy.

I typically cook a couple of squash at a time and store what I don't use in the freezer so it's ready for another recipe. This time of year, I like to experiment, trying something new every time I hit the farmers market. Butternut squash is always my fave, though. It's creamy and has such a rich flavor, a natural for so many awesome recipes. Clean eating bonus points: Squash is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with all sorts of vitamins and much-needed minerals like copper and potassium. It's great source of fiber and even has some protein, too. Score!

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