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Guide to Cooking 20 Vegetables

How to shop for, prepare and cook healthy vegetables.

16. Squash, Acorn

Look for: Green, orange or white varietals with firm, smooth skins and no spongy spots.

Prep: Cut in quarters and scoop out the seeds.

Braise: Place squash in a pot with 2 cups unsweetened apple juice. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Microwave: Place squash in a large glass baking dish; add 1⁄2 cup water. Cover and microwave on High for 15 minutes; let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

17. Squash, Delicata

Look for: Small, firm squash with bright yellow or orange skins that have green veins branching like lightning through them.

Microwave: Place squash in a large glass baking dish or microwave-safe bowl with 1⁄4 cup broth (or water). Cover tightly and microwave on High for 10 minutes.

Prep: Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and slice into thin half-moons (peeling is optional).

Sauté: Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash slices; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in a pinch of grated nutmeg before serving.

Steam: Place squash slices in a steamer basket over 1 inch of water in a large pot set over high heat. Cover and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.

18. Squash, Summer & Zucchini

Look for: No breaks, gashes or soft spots; smaller squash (under 8 inches) are sweeter and have fewer seeds; do not peel, but scrub off any dirt.

Prep: Cut off stem ends.

Grill: Cut squash lengthwise into 1⁄4-inch strips. Preheat grill; brush strips lightly with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Place over direct, medium heat; grill, turning once, until marked and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Roast: Preheat oven to 500°F. Cut squash lengthwise into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. Spread on a baking sheet or in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Coat with 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil. Roast, turning once halfway through cooking, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Sauté: Cut squash into 1⁄4-inch-thick rings. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 minced garlic clove and squash; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes.

Steam: Cut squash into 1⁄2-inch-thick rings. Place in a steamer basket with a small onion, thinly sliced. Place over 1 inch of water in a large pot set over high heat. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

19. Sweet Potatoes

Look for: Taut if papery skins with tapered ends.

Prep: Scrub.

Braise: Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a large skillet with 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon honey and 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme. Bring to a simmer over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 2 minutes.

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