Here are some tips for slicing squash

Spiced ambercup squash is topped with glazed walnuts.
Spiced ambercup squash is topped with glazed walnuts. Detroit Free Press

With Thanksgiving a few weeks away, a squash dish deserves a spot on your holiday table.

And when it comes to nutrition, squash are superstars – packed with antioxidants and vitamins and no fat.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when cutting squash:

▪ Don’t be afraid to ask the folks in the grocery produce department to cut them for you.

▪ Thin-skinned squash varieties, like butternut, can be peeled, but that’s still a challenge. You can microwave the squash whole for a few minutes to soften the skin to make it easier to peel.

▪ For smaller squash like acorn or pie pumpkins, use a butcher knife, placing it slightly to the side of the stem and cutting through to the other end. You can also microwave these first to soften the skin.

▪ For big, hard squash like Hubbard, drop it on cement to break it apart. Or you can use a butcher knife and pound it through using a rubber mallet.

Spiced Ambercup squash with glazed walnuts

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 6 generously

Microwave the whole squash about 5 minutes to make it easier to peel and cut. Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine, November 2009 issue.

For the squash:

1 Ambercup squash or favorite squash, about 2 1/2 pounds

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

Sea salt to taste

For the glazed walnuts:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Peel the squash and remove and discard the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the squash chunks on the baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar with the butter and five-spice powder. Cook over moderate heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is bubbling, about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture over the squash pieces and stir to coat. Season with salt. Bake for about 10 minutes, basting a few times, until the squash pieces are tender and glazed.

To make the glazed walnuts, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and butter and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until a light caramel forms, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the baking soda and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the walnuts. Quickly spread the toffee on the prepared baking sheet as thinly as possible. Cool completely and then break into pieces.

Sprinkle the walnut toffee over the squash and serve.

Per serving: 342 calories (42 percent from fat), 16 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 52 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 114 mg sodium, 25 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.