Fall brings with it vivid colors: the red and green of leaves and the orange of pumpkins. Fall also brings with it the peak seasons for many winter squash. The terms winter and summer squash are somewhat misleading, as many are available all year long. The terms date back to a time when winter meant that the vegetables would last until December—they were known as “good keepers.”
There are many varieties of winter squash. Here is a list of some of the most common with information on each.
Acorn Squash: Easily found in supermarkets. As its name suggests, this winter squash is small and round shaped like an acorn.
Ambercup Squash: A relative of the buttercup squash that resembles a small pumpkin with orange skin. Bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste. Peel it, cube the flesh, roast it, and serve like cut-up sweet potatoes. Has an extraordinarily long storage life. Available June to November.
Autumn Cup Squash: A hybrid semi-bush Buttercup/kabocha type dark green squash. Rich flavored flesh and high yields. Fruit size 6 inches with a weight of about 2 to 3 pounds. Flesh is yellow/orange meat that is stringless, dry, and sweet. Available September through December.
Banana Squash: In shape and skin color, this winter squash is reminiscent of a banana. It grows up to two feet in length and about six inches in diameter. Its bright orange, finely textured flesh is sweet. Banana squash is often available cut into smaller pieces. Available year-round - peak season lasts summer through early fall.
Butternut Squash: Easily found in supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase or a bell. This is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The more orange the color, the riper, drier, and sweeter the squash. Butternut is a common squash used in making soup because it tends not to be stringy. Available year-round - peak season lasts from early fall through winter.
Buttercup Squash: Buttercup Squash are part of the Turban squash family (hard shells with turban-like shapes) and are a popular variety of winter squash. This squash has a dark-green skin, sometimes accented with lighter green streaks. Has a sweet and creamy orange flesh. This squash is much sweeter than other winter varieties. Buttercup Squash can be baked, mashed, pureed, steamed, simmered, or stuffed and can replace sweet potatoes in most recipes. Available year-round - peak season lasts from early fall through winter.
Gold Nugget squash: A variety of winter squash, which is sometimes referred to as an Oriental pumpkin that has the appearance of a small pumpkin in shape and color. It ranges in size from one to three pounds. Golden nugget squashes are small, weighing on average about 1 pound. Both the skin and the flesh are orange. Gold Nugget Squash may be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). Pierce whole squash in several places, and bake halved squash hollow side up. Available year-round - is best season is late summer through early winter.
Hubbard Squash: The extra-hard skins make them one of the best keeping winter squashes. These are very large and irregularly shaped, with a skin that is quite “warted” and irregular. They range from big to enormous, have a blue/gray skin, and taper at the ends. Like all winter squash, they have an inedible skin, large, fully developed seeds that must be scooped out, and a dense flesh. Hubbard squash is often sold in pieces because it can grow to very large sizes. The yellow flesh of these tends to be very moist and longer cooking times in the oven are needed. They are generally peeled and boiled, cut up and roasted, or cut small and steamed or sautéed. It’s perfect for pies. Available year-round - peak season is early fall throughout winter.
Spaghetti Squash: A small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nutlike flavor. The yellowest Spaghetti squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Although it may seem counterintuitive, larger spaghetti squash are more flavorful than smaller ones. When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti pasta. To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Then bake or boil it until tender. Or, wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooked, use a fork to rake out the "spaghetti-like" stringy flesh (all the way to the rind), and serve. Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well. Available year-round - season early fall through winter.
Here are some tips for choosing a good winter squash. Look for squash that are well-shaped and firm. They should have a hard, tough skin, and be heavy for their size. Watch out for moldy or sunken spot and make sure there are no punctures or cuts in the skin. Flavor is not affected by variations in skin color, but if the rind is tender the quality of the winter squash is probably poor.
1 spaghetti squash, halved
lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash with cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are warmed through.
Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.
Autumn Squash Casserole
3 pounds buttercup squash –
peeled, seeded, and cut into
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash white pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
6 cups sliced peeled apples
1/4 cup white sugar
1-1/2 cups cornflakes cereal,
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place the squash pieces in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; then mash the squash with 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, salt, and white pepper.
Heat the 1-1/2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over low heat; stir in sliced apples and sprinkle with the white sugar. Cover and cook over low heat until barely tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread the apples in a 3-quart casserole. Spoon the mashed squash evenly over the apples.
Stir together the cornflakes, pecans, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, and melted butter. Sprinkle the cornflake mixture evenly over the squash.
Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash
3 acorn squash, halved and
2 tablespoons stick margarine
1 cup chopped onions
3 cups peeled, seeded, and
chopped Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash onto a baking sheet cut side down. Fill the baking sheet with 1/2 inch of water
Bake the squash in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Drain off any water remaining in the baking sheet.
While the squash is baking, melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and apple in the margarine until the onion has softened and turned translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl to cool until the squash has finished baking.
Once the squash is done, stir the raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and Cheddar cheese into the apple mixture. Turn the squash cut side up on the baking sheet and fill with the apple mixture. Return the squash to the oven; bake until the filling is hot and the cheese has melted, about 15 minutes.
Twice Baked Buttercup Squash
3 small buttercup squash
1/3 cup nonfat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons brown sugar or
sugar, in the raw
Heat oven to 425°F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and fibers and discard.
Place squash in an ungreased 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
Scoop out flesh of squash, leaving about 1/4 inch thick shell and set shells aside for now. Place flesh of squash in a medium bowl.
Add sour cream, salt, nutmeg and nuts if using, mix until smooth. Fill each shell with the squash mixture. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
Place filled shells in baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Grandma’s Sweet Hubbard Squash Custard Pie
living well, allrecipes.com
2-1/2 pounds Hubbard squash –
cut into chunks and seeds
1/2 cup firmly packed dark
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted butter,
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange squash on lined baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until the skin is browned and flesh is tender, about 45 minutes; allow to cool before handling. Remove flesh from squash using a spoon.
Reduce temperature setting on oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place 2 cups of squash in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the brown sugar, eggs, cream, apple pie spice, salt, and butter; process until smooth.
Pour the squash mixture into the pie crust. Bake until the filling rises, about 1 hour.
Golden Nugget Squash Stew
2 pounds beef stew meat, 1-inch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil,
2 cups water
1 ounce dried mushroom, any
16 ounces baby red potatoes,
12 ounces baby carrots
4 elephant garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces white pearl onions,
1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon
14-1/2 ounce can chopped
8-10 squash, Gold Nugget
To cut gold nugget squash easily:
Wash each squash. Place whole squash in oven for about 45 minutes at 350F or until it punctures with a sharp knife. Let sit for a few minutes. Using oven mitts to hold the squash, cut a 3- to 4-inch circle around the top stem (opposite flat end). Save cut end for bowl lid.
To peel pearl onions:
Place in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes; blanch lightly. Remove from boiling water. Chop off end of pearl, and squeeze flesh out of skin.
In a Dutch oven, brown meat, in 2 tbsp. oil. Add water, dried mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, garlic, onions, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
Stir in bouillon and tomatoes. Remove squash ‘lid’ and set aside; discard seeds and loose fibers from inside. Place squash in a shallow baking pan.
Spoon stew into squash and replace the lids. Brush the outside of the squash with the remaining oil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour or until the squash is tender (do not over bake).
Serve each person one squash bowl with stew.
Amazing Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash- peeled,
seeded and cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup crushed saltine crackers
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large pot, bring the squash to boil. Reduce to a simmer until squash is soft.
In a large bowl, mash the softened squash. Mix in the mayonnaise, onion, egg, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart baking dish.
In a medium bowl, mix together crackers, parmesan and butter. Sprinkle over the squash mixture.
Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the topping is lightly brown.
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