Harvest season is in full swing and our kitchen is feeling the abundance of fall. There is so much to love about autumn and fall harvest foods are easily at the top of the list. Winter squash are the quintessential fall foods, but with so many different types, it can be overwhelming. We created a little cheat sheet of the six most popular winter squashes. On your next trip to the market you won’t be stumped when you find yourself asking, “What is the difference between acorn and buttercup squash?”
Butternut: The butternut squash earns its fame as the sweetest of the winter squash family. It is ideal pureed in soups, roasted, and can even be used in desserts. Although butternut squash is the sweetest, it can also be the most difficult to cut (that’s why it is often sold in pre-cut packages). Follow these easy steps in prepping butternut squash.
Acorn: Named for it acorn shape, it also has distinctly sweet and nutty flavor. This squash is easily handled and can even be sliced and roasted with the peel on. Acorn squash is best roasted to bring out the nutty flavor, or sautéed. If you are really in a time crunch, try it in the microwave!
Kabocha: These guys often get confused with pumpkins as they tend to look like mini versions of them. However, kabochas have duller finish, sometimes dark green skin, small bumps, and a brighter yellow-orange flesh than their Jack O’ Lantern cousins. “Kabocha” is the Japanese word for squash and is also referred to as the Japanese pumpkin. This squash is best roasted or used in sweets, like pies!
Delicata: These guys are the smallest and easiest to prepare of the winter squash. The flavor is creamy, and sweet which explains why Delicata is known as the sweet potato squash. Delicata’s size makes it perfect for stuffing and baking, also easy to slice into medallions and bake.
Buttercup: these green guys can easily be confused with green varieties of kabocha but look for a circular ridge on the bottom to distinguish the two. This winter squash tends to be dry, so it is best to prepare by steaming, or baking along with other veggies. The flavor is more on the sweet side and goes excellent with spicier dishes.
Spaghetti squash: A favorite of the winter squash family for its unique flesh strands. It has a mild flavor and lends itself well to nearly anything. Roasting is the best way to prepare it, although steaming works well too. A great alternative to pasta (and a fun way to get kids to eat their vegetables!), Spaghetti squash can be served with marinara, pesto, shrimp scampi, or herbed butter. Spaghetti squash can also be scraped and baked into a pie, or fried into pancakes.
What are you waiting for!? Get out there and get your winter squash on! Please share your favorite recipes and ideas with us in the comments below.