Yellow squash, a variety of summer squash, can be prepared many ways, but boiling is among the easiest. Homegrown and farmers market squash is typically freshest, but supermarket squash, in season, is usually quite delicious as well. Boiled squash is standard fare in casseroles but is also a favorite of those who love simple, whole foods with little processing.
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Choose squash that are heavy for their size, firm and bright yellow with few or no blemishes or bruises and no moist patches. Smaller squash -- those no more than a half-dollar in diameter -- are more tender and less bitter than ones that have been allowed to grow large. Gather a sharp knife, a cutting board, a saucepan with lid and a slotted spoon or small strainer.
Scrub each piece of squash with a vegetable brush under running water and dry. It isn't necessary or desirable to peel the squash. For each piece, remove the end from the neck and discard. Typically, the other end is removed, too. Cut away any bruises or blemishes. Next, you can leave the rest of the squash whole, or cut it into wheels or cube it. Cooks often discard the neck but it has the same nutrition and taste as the body of the squash. Squash can be cut to any desirable size, but strive to keep all pieces approximately the same mass for even cooking.
For squash pieces, bring just enough water to cover the squash to a boil, suggests the Michigan Statue University Extension. Use the lid and medium-high heat to get the water boiling but, upon adding the squash, lower the heat to medium and keep the lid off. To boil whole squash, bring to boil enough water to cover the squash by at least 1 inch, and then cook with lid on at medium-low heat.
Small pieces of squash may be ready in 4 minutes while whole squash may need to cook longer than 30 minutes. Check frequently and remove from heat as soon as the squash reaches the desired softness. Pour out excess water using cooking mittens and the lid, or remove the pieces with a slotted spoon. Place squash in a bowl and blot with paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible.
Boiled squash has many purposes, which determine the extras you want to add to the water while boiling. For toddler food, nothing needs to be added. To eat as a side dish, you can add salt, a pinch of sugar, margarine, butter, herbs or spices to the water prior to boiling. The squash can be boiled in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water, or a chicken bouillon cube can be added. For extra flavor, add 1 part diced white or yellow onion to 8 parts squash. For squash destined for a casserole, add only a dash of salt to the water prior to boiling.