Steaming is one of the easiest ways to tenderize all types of winter squash. It works in a metal-rack steamer over water on the stove top, but the microwave offers convenience and speed. (You could steam the squash in a multicooker/electric pressure cooker, too.)
Here, the steamed slices of squash are treated to a smoky-sweet coating that enhances their appearance as well as flavor. While you are prepping the squash, save those seeds: They make a nice garnish.
4 to 5 pounds total squash, preferably a mix of delicata, butternut, acorn and/or kuri
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup vegetable broth, preferably no-salt-added, or more as needed
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
Kosher or flaky sea salt
For the squash: Prep each squash as needed (peel or not; slice into wedges or rounds, etc.). You will want to keep some squash seeds to toast for a garnish, so rinse off any fibrous flesh that’s attached to them and spread them on a paper towel to dry.
Peel the butternut squash and cut ¼-inch thick crosswise rounds from its center (seedless) section; cut the delicata squash crosswise into ½-inch rounds and spoon out the seedy center of each one; cut the acorn and kuri squash into 1-inch-thick wedges, then cut away the peel if desired. You may not use all of every squash, depending on the variety.
Working in batches of the same variety, lay the squash in a glass or other microwave-safe, shallow baking dish, so that pieces are only partially overlapping (for even cooking). Pour in about ½ cup water and cover tightly with plastic wrap, so no wrap is touching the food. Poke a few holes in the plastic so steam can escape.
Cook on HIGH in 4-minute increments, until the flesh is just tender enough to pierce with a fork. Transfer to a plate and repeat as needed, adding more water and changing the plastic wrap.
Just before serving, heat the butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the broth, syrup and smoked paprika; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until well incorporated.
The mixture should thicken a bit, into a syrupy glaze; if it begins to bubble up or looks in danger of burning, reduce the heat to medium-low or move the pan temporarily off the burner. Taste carefully, and add salt, as needed.
Working in batches, add the cooked squash pieces. Use tongs to turn them so all sides are coated. Cook for a few minutes, until warmed through, then transfer to a platter, making sure there’s enough glaze left in the pan to take care of all the squash you have. Pour any remaining glaze over the array.
Season lightly with the salt.
Scatter the toasted squash seeds over the top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
NOTE: Toss the squash seeds with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisped. Let cool.
PER SERVING: 130 calories; 9 g total fat; 3 g saturated fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 55 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrates; 2 g dietary fiber; 7 g sugars; 1 g protein.
– Recipe from “The Clean Plates Cookbook: Sustainable, Delicious and Healthier Eating for Every Body,” by Jared Koch with Jill Silverman Koch