How to Shop, Prepare and Cook Squash

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Photo By Johannes Hofmann

The weather is getting slightly cooler so that means it’s time for heartier dishes, the kind that are perfecting for curling up on the couch and watching some Netflix. And since it’s winter squash season, we thought we’d put together a guide for fall, so you can get in the kitchen and cook up some chili, pasta and more with all of the varieties out there. 

Acorn Squash 

Green on the outside and a warm, burnt orange on the inside, acorn squash not only tastes good, but also looks great on a plate. When cut up, the slices have nice, curved edges, like little hills. It’s easy to make a make a side dish look decorative when you cut up some acorn squash. You can also cut it in half and stuff something tasty inside like sausage and kale. And for a sweet and savory dish that will shouts “fall is here,” we like Katie Moseman’s recipe for Maple Butter Roasted Acorn Squash with Pecans. The squash is rich, buttery and very autumnal. 

Delicata Squash 

Sometimes known as Bohemian squash, peanut squash and even sweet potato squash, delicata squash is named for its delicate rind. Though technically a summer squash, it is eaten in its mature state in the winter. Delicata squash has lovely green stripes decorating the rind, so don’t feel like you need to peel it away. For cooking, you can follow the blog Naturally Ella’s lead and roast it with honey butter and pistachios, or try their recipe for Delicata Squash Tacos with Black Beans for a fall-themed Taco Tuesday. 

Spaghetti Squash 

These pale yellow, oval-shaped squash are unique for their insides that flake like spaghetti when cooked. The thin strands make for a great carbless meal if that’s what you’re looking for, or simply work when you want to try something new. Just like spaghetti, you can toss the cooked ribbons with pesto, make a cacio e pepe or add a classic red sauce. Sure, it’s not pasta, but it can be a slightly healthier alternative — if you’re not mixing in loads of cheese, of course. Whatever preparation you choose to go for, the most fun part with certainly be turning the squash into spaghetti strands. 

Butternut Squash 

Butternut squash is no doubt one of the most popular varieties that you see popping up on fall-inspired menus. Butternut squash soup, butternut squash know the drill. But we find ourselves still going back to this fall classic, a creamy tan color on the outside protecting a pumpkin orange-colored flesh. It’s long, almost tube-like shape requires a little bit of maintenance to cut up, but diced and pureed is one of our favorite ways to enjoy it. A great example? This recipe for Creamy Butternut Squash Alla Vodka from the blog Half Baked Harvest.

Cushaw Squash 

Originating from the south of Mexico, this winter squash has a high nutritional value, and practically the whole plant can be used — the fruit, flowers and shoots are all harvested. Talk about a superfood! You may recognize a cushaw squash, green and with a slight curve towards the stem. Cushaw squash can also be very, very large, so you’ll have plenty to work with. You can freeze whatever leftovers you have to be used for later, and if this is your first time cooking a cushaw, this guide is gives a good overview of what to do. If you can’t find cushaw squash in your grocery store or farmer’s market, head to the nearest pumpkin patch to see what you can find there. 

Turk’s Turban Squash

Turk’s Turban Squash is the funkiest, most Halloween-esque squash on this list. While the bottom is rounded and reminiscent of a pumpkin, the top looks like it’s been glued on almost like a turban or hat. The color of a Turk’s Turban is usually a mix of orange, yellow, green and white, making use of all of fall’s colors. Due to its shape and size, it’s perfect for filling with a smooth, velvety soup, or stuffing with something else equally delicious. Plus, there are less dishes to wash if you’re eating straight out of the squash itself! If you see a Turk’s Turban Squash at the farmer’s market, don’t be intimidated. It will look great on your fall dinner table and taste good too. 

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