I’m not sure how I have lived on this earth without tasting the awesomeness that is winter squash, but it wasn’t until last winter, when I was introduced to acorn squash through my produce co-op that I tried any variety. Now it’s a year later and I’m obsessed.
What’s not to love? Winter squash (named this way because it’s grown in the summer and harvested in the fall/winter) is abundant this season, which means it’s relatively cheap, it’s super easy to prepare, and it’s nutritious.
Varieties include butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkins and others. Epicurious has a great visual guide. Plus, as an added bonus, many of the varieties are pretty, so rather than storing them in your pantry, you can store them out in the open as a part of your fall decor!
The two varieties that I’ve grown to love are the acorn squash and the spaghetti squash. And I’ve recently tried roasting a pie pumpkin that I received when I got my produce share from Brown Box Veggies! (Be on the lookout for a some great ways to prepare a pie pumpkin later this week.)
Acorn squash is so named because of it’s shape. When shopping, pick squash that are vividly green; if they’re orange, they’re past their prime. One cup of cubed acorn squash has just 56 calories, and contains 25 percent of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, and 10 percent of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A.
Acorn squash is easy to prepare, and makes a great side dish to any fall meal. I often prepare it for myself for an easy (not quick) lunch.
Baked Acorn Squash
- One acorn squash
- 2 tbs. brown sugar
- 2 tbs. butter
- Maple syrup
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- Cut your squash in half, starting from the top. (Once you get past the outer flesh, it’s easier to cut.)
- Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp from the center.
- Mix your butter and brown sugar together, and put half of the mixture into the cavity of each squash.
- Drizzle the halves with maple syrup and put in a baking dish.
- Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, and then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. (Serves 1-2.)
Spaghetti Squash is my newest obsession. I’ve greatly reduced the amount of pasta and rice that our family consumes, as I feel that it’s not enough nutritional bang for my calorie buck. It’s always nice to find alternatives to these two things. So I picked up a spaghetti squash a couple of weeks ago and I am in LOVE. It’s named for the fact that once it’s cooked, the flesh separates into spaghetti like strands that you can use as an alternative to pasta.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories and full of anti-oxidants. Many recipes you’ll find offer the squash as a straight up substitute for spaghetti in recipes, but I discovered that it’s delicious all on it’s own. It’s very easy to prepare.
Baked Spaghetti Squash
- One Spaghetti squash (they vary in size dramatically at the store; they can weigh between 1 and 4 pounds)
- Parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 350.
- Cut your squash in half length wise.
- Hollow out the center and remove the pulp and seeds (The seeds can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds.)
- Place each half on a baking pan (preferably one that’s not flimsy) and bake for 45 minutes.
- Once baked, scrape a fork through the flesh, producing the spaghetti strands. If the squash is watery, drain it through a colander.
- Serve with butter and Parmesan cheese.
I served this instead of rice with pot roast and potatoes and carrots and it was a hit with my entire family. I then munched on the leftovers for several more meals.
How do you cook winter squash? Leave your suggestions in the comments!
Spaghetti Squash Photo credit: Farmanac / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA