Winter Squash Recipes Delight Diners

Use winter squash for these delicious winter squash recipes.

| November/December 2014

To the uninitiated, the various winter squashes can cause a person to scratch her head and wonder “What in the world do you do with that?” Those odd-shaped, odd-colored, hard-as-a-rock orbs found in the produce aisle at this time of year are actually culinary gems and garden superstars.

Winter squash is amazingly versatile in the kitchen, and its sheer abundance in the garden invites endless experimentation for the adventurous cook. From soups and side dishes to cakes and breads, squash lends itself to all of them, so there’s never a reason for squash of any kind to go to waste. 

Like corn, early squash was quite different than the kind we consume today. Cultivated by Native Americans, squash was prized for its seeds since it didn’t have much flesh — the little flesh it did have was bitter and unpalatable. As it continued to be cultivated and introduced throughout the New World, varieties were developed to have sweet-tasting flesh — and an abundance of it. Christopher Columbus brought squash back to Europe, and it continued to make its way into the world via Spanish and Portuguese explorers.  

Winter squash includes, but is not limited to, Cucurbita pepo (acorn, delicata, dumpling and spaghetti); Cucurbita moschata (butternut); Cucurbita maxima (kabocha, Hubbard and buttercup); and pumpkins of all kinds are included, too. Loaded with carotenoids and other antioxidants, winter squash truly is a superfood. Winter squash can be incorporated into endless dishes to add bulk, flavor and moistening properties; it’s so versatile that it can be considered a year-round staple

Guidelines for cooking

The flavor of winter squash is best brought out by the high heat of roasting or sautéing, but it can be steamed, too. Here are some tips for preparation:

Roast: Heat the oven to 400 F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and brush the skin with a thin layer of olive oil. Begin checking for doneness after 30 minutes. Bake up to 1 hour. 

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