Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit squash are so prolific and resplendent in the Fall they are a little difficult to ignore. I must admit, it took me a while, but now I’m a squash convert. I started off a little timid with the better known traditional Sugar Pumpkin—making pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and a caramelized pumpkin soup in the Fall—but this weekend I bought my first “Hubbard”. I’m still wondering what to do with it, thank goodness it lasts several months!
Growing up in England, this Native American food was not available. Even after being in the US for a number of years I still ignored most kinds of squash, Zucchini, Summer Squash and Pumpkin being the exceptions. It wasn’t until I started going to farmer’s markets in the Catskills over ten years ago that I began to experiment with other types of squash. Not only do they make fabulous decorative pieces for the fall and winter, but they make the most delicious and nutritious meals. Low in calories, high in beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, you can’t go wrong.
Squash, along with beans and corn was the holy trinity of the Native American diet. Unlike other vegetables, squash is available all year long, it comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors and is probably the most versatile vegetable around.
- Sugar (pie) Pumpkin – The smaller and denser the flesh, the more perfect it is for baking. The larger ones are more watery, but they can be used for soups. Generally available in October and November. GOOD FOR: Soups, pies, muffins, bread, risottos, ravioli and even quesadillas.
- Acorn – Available year-round, this small, acorn-shaped squash is generally dark green with some orange. It has a deep ribbed rind (impossible to peel so just cut in half to cook) and a yellow/orange flesh full of fiber. A mild, sweet flavor. GOOD FOR: Roasting and stuffing
- Spaghetti – Available all year round, this football-shaped (and sized) squash is a cross between a winter and summer squash. The yellow outer skin holds a big surprise when cooked! Its flesh separates into “spaghetti” like strands—hence it’s named. The bigger ones have the better flavor. GOOD FOR: Roasting and serving like pasta.
- Butternut – As squashes go, this is the most common and easiest to peel. Available most of the year, it’s bell-shape has a thin butterscotch colored skin and its flesh is sweet, creamy and nutty when cooked. It’s also high in vitamins A and C and is a really versatile squash. GOOD FOR: Roasting and soups, baking with other vegetables, ravioli, risotto and it’s lovely grated and sautéed.
- Buttercup – Available in most supermarkets all year round and late fall at farmer’s markets. It is much sweeter than other fall squashes. Round, green and orange, with a dense flesh and a full-bodied flavor. GOOD FOR: Pureed side dish, soups, stuffed and a variety of baked items.
- Delicata – Also known as “sweet potato squash” because of its creamy texture and flavor. Available late June through October this vibrantly green and yellow striped heirloom variety evokes the flavor of sweet corn. GOOD FOR: Baked, roasting, and stuffing.
- Hubbard – Available late fall through winter, it’s hard, nubbly blue-gray skin hides a delicious yellow flesh that is both savory and sweet. This giant squash is mealier in texture than other squashes, but the flavor is very mellow. A whole Hubbard will keep up to six months! GOOD FOR: Soups, puree, pies, and mashes.