Winter squash is an affordable, healthy addition to any meal (even breakfast—try it with coconut flakes on top). Its versatility makes it a great option for dishes ranging from sweet to savory. However, traditional methods of preparing winter squash are time and/or labor intensive. Fortunately, cooking delicata squash in a pressure cooker is so simple that it will become a go-to ingredient in no time.
While some squash varieties leave us wishing for a lumberjack to hack them open before cooking, delicata slices easily in prep. Also known as Bohemian squash, peanut squash, or sweet potato squash, delicata squash is smaller, and as the name suggests, more delicate than other varieties of winter squash. It’s oblong in shape, and ranges from pale yellow to yellow-orange, sporting green and orange stripes from stem to blossom scar. It’s a member of the species C. pepo, along with pumpkins, acorn squash, and summer squash, to name a few.
Delicata squash is smaller and easier to work with than more common winter squashes, which makes it perfect for weeknight meals. Using an electric pressure cooker saves time and effort. You can even cook enough to have leftovers for days, and freeze cooked squash to have on hand later.
Selecting Delicata Squash
Small to medium delicata squash are best—bigger ones tend to be stringier and more watery. Look for squash that is firm and free from blemishes and gashes, and watch out for bruising and rot.
Storing Delicata Squash
This petite squash has a shorter storage life than heftier winter squash, so plan to use it sooner than later. Like other varieties, store it in a cool, dry place (not in the refrigerator).
Cooking Delicata Squash
Because of its small size and delicate nature, it requires less cook time than other more rugged varieties of squash. Through trial and error eight minutes stood out as the sweet spot to perfectly cooked delicate squash in the Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker.
Step One: Prep
Wash and dry the squash.
Wash the squash with a brush and cool water. Dry with a kitchen towel.
Slice and deseed the squash.
On a sturdy cutting board, roll the squash to find a position where it won’t rock. Slice the top and tail off the squash, and then cut the squash in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out seeds and stringy innards.
Step Two: Prepare electric pressure cooker
Pour water into the pot.
Add one cup of water to the pot. This is what will create the steam to build up pressure for cooking.
Add trivet to the pot.
Place a heat-proof trivet in the bottom of the pot to keep the squash out of the water while it cooks.
Place the squash halves atop the trivet.
Because the delicata squash are relatively small, you can cook as many as fit comfortably in the pot, up to 2/3 full.
Step Three: Cook on high pressure for eight minutes
Check to be sure the lid is correctly assembled.
See your device’s manual for information specific to your model.
Close and lock the lid.
Check to be sure the steam valve is set to seal.
Select PRESSURE COOK (or MANUAL) and set the timer for eight minutes.
Remember that pressure cookers need some initial time to build up pressure from the steam before the eight-minute timer begins.
Step Four: Quick release pressure
When the timer goes off do not open the lid: carefully release the pressure through the steam valve. The steam is hot and can scald, so use caution.
When the pressure pin drops, carefully open the lid.
Use long tongs or other large kitchen utensils to carefully remove squash from the pot.
Season according to the recipe or make it up adding cooking fat, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, and maybe something sweet like maple syrup or honey. Mix up taco night by using delicata squash in lieu of shells. Or, try it with coconut flakes. So good!