This fall, I challenge you to step outside of your pumpkin bubble. Fall brings its own variety of seasonal produce, most notably winter squash. Don’t let the name fool you. Winter squash are planted in the spring just like summer squash, but they have a longer growing season. Instead of harvesting in the summer, these squash are harvested in the fall. Why, then, are they called winter squash? They are given this name because of their long shelf-life. Their thick skins mean they can be stored at room temperature for a long time (anywhere from 1-3 months), or they can be stored through the winter.
You can find a variety of winter squash at your local grocery store, and can find more unique squash at local farmers’ markets. Sugar pumpkins, butternut, acorn, spaghetti and delicate squash are available at most grocery stores. Hubbard, buttercup, and turban squash can be found at specialty stores or farmers’ markets. Here are some ways to move those squash from decorations on your dining room table to the main course at dinner.
Acorn squash: Half the squash, remove the seeds and roast in oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Season the flesh with cinnamon or olive oil and black pepper. These also make great “bowls”. Stuff acorn squash with sausage, rice or quinoa, beans, or dried fruit and seeds.
Butternut squash: A great substitute for sweet potatoes or pumpkin. Poke holes in the outer skin with a knife or fork, then microwave for 2-5 minutes to make it easier to cut and peel. Remove the skin and seeds, and then cut squash into cubes. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Add to your favorite soups or chili.
Delicata squash: These squash have an edible skin. Cut into rings and roast for 30-35 minutes at 425 degrees.
Hubbard squash: Hubbard squash are huge (often weighing between 5-15 pounds)! You can buy them as pre-cut wedges, or peel and cube yourself (and freeze for later use). Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and substitute for any recipe using butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.
Spaghetti Squash: Cut in half. (Use the microwave to soften the skin and make it easier to cut). Once you remove the seeds, roast at 425 for 30-45 minutes. Use a fork to turn the flesh into spaghetti strands. Eat it straight from the squash (using the squash as a bowl) or substitute for spaghetti in your favorite pasta dish.
Interested in more recipes using winter squash? Stop by the dietitian office at Texins!