Guide to Winter Squash
Winter squashes are gaining popularity, and not just as cute Fall decor.
While they do look nice as part of a Thanksgiving centerpiece, they have much more to offer than their good looks. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients and as a gluten-free and starchy vegetable, they’ve become increasingly popular in place of other starchy items like rice and pasta.
The term “winter squash” refers to a group of squashes that differ from summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash) in that they are harvested and eaten after the seeds have fully matured and the skin has hardened into a rind. While there are many varieties of winter squash, this post highlights only a few of the most popular and widely available varieties. They can all be prepared in a variety of ways, including those cooking methods that are most popular over the road.
Butternut Squash has an orange flesh and is similar in taste to pumpkin. It’s often served roasted or pureed, includ]]ing into a soup. It can be prepared in an oven, microwave, InstantPot® (link to InstantPot post) or air fryer, and it can also be sautéed or grilled. Check out this recipe for Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash HERE.
Photo by The Minimalist Baker
Spaghetti squash is possibly the most fascinating of the winter squash family, as its cooked flesh resembles the well-loved pasta of its name. It’s often used as a substitute for—you guessed it—spaghetti, especially for those looking for a lower calorie, lower carbohydrate, or gluten-free option. Click HERE to learn How to Cook Spaghetti Squash, but know that it can also be prepared in the microwave or InstantPot®, or on the grill.
Acorn squash comes in a variety of colors and resembles an acorn in shape. It’s prepared in a similar way to both of the above squashes but stands out as a fun option due to its stuffing potential. Check out a recipe for Caramelized Onion, Apple, and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash HERE.
Delicata squash is arguably the easiest of the winter squashes to prepare. Its rind is delicate, as the name implies, and is actually edible. Delicata squash is easily roasted or sautéed and is also perfect for the air fryer. Click HERE for a No-Peel Delicata Squash Fries recipe, made in the air fryer.
Other popular winter squashes include Kabocha, Red Kuri, Cinderella, Sugar Pie, and more. As mentioned, all varieties can be prepared many ways, so pick a squash and use the Internet to search for a recipe that fits your resources, i.e. “microwave spaghetti squash recipe” or “air fryer butternut squash”. All of the squashes will require scooping out the seeds, but doing so doesn’t take long, and the seeds are edible too! Winter squash seeds are an excellent source of protein, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and they make for a great snack or topping for your favorite soup or salad. Instructions for roasting winter squash seeds to eat can be found HERE.
That wraps up this guide to winter squash! Let us know if you have a favorite already or have questions about trying one.