Eat WellRecipes

Sweet & Savory Winter Squash

by Shawn Menard, Produce Manager

With all of the winter squash varieties to choose from at the Co-op it can be challenging to decide which type to pick.  And once you pick, it can be even more challenging to find a new and exciting recipe you haven’t tried yet. Below are some of the squash you will find at the Co-op and my favorite way to use each one. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to decide what will be for dinner.

Acorn
This mild sweet squash is easy to handle and absorbs flavor well. Acorn squash is excellent stuffed with your favorite meat stuffing or bean and vegetable mixture.  Cut in half from top to bottom and remove seeds.  Score the flesh in ¼ inch increments and place each half in a baking dish cut side up.  Brush the flesh with olive oil or butter and bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until slight caramelization occurs. Fill each half with desired stuffing and bake for an additional 10 minutes.


Blue Hubbard

  Its thick bumpy skin is more difficult to handle and cut, but the orange flesh on the inside is well worth it.  The flavor is sweet and nutty. Both flavor and texture are comparable to a sweet potato.  Blue hubbards are great with butter and maple syrup.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place halves cut side down in a baking dish with a half inch of water. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Let cool and mix in butter and syrup to your liking.  Finish with salt and pepper.
This large and misshapen squash is one of the most challenging to deal with.


Buttercup

This petite squash is one of the easier varieties to handle due to its size and relatively thin skin.  Peel and cut into one inch pieces. Mix 2 tablespoons each of agave (or honey) with balsamic vinegar. Brush liquid mixture over squash pieces and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.


Butternut

This is the squash everybody knows.  Its delicious, easy to find, and you can do almost anything with it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut in half lengthwise and peel.  Scoop out seeds and cut into ¾ inch pieces.  Coat pieces in olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Heat 6 cups chicken stock on low heat. In a separate large pan melt 5 tablespoons of butter and sauté 2 ounces of diced pancetta and two diced shallots until shallots become translucent. Stir in 1.5 cups Arborio rice until coated. Add a half cup of dry white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.


Delicata

This cylindrical squash is very easy to handle and is my personal favorite.  The skin is edible when cooked making it hassle free. I love using delicata in quesadillas this time of year.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place halves in a baking dish with the cut side down in a half inch of water and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Allow squash to cool to the touch and cut into quarter or half inch pieces.  Saute the pieces with sliced mushrooms, garlic, onions, dried sage, salt, and pepper.  Cook the mixture in your favorite tortillas with a nice sharp cheddar and enjoy dipped in hot sauce.


Kabocha

Also know as the “Japanese Pumpkin” this squash is exceptionally sweet and also nutty in flavor.  It’s texture is reminiscent of russet potatoes and can either be very smooth and creamy or firm depending on how it is cooked.  This is by far one of the most dynamic winter squash varieties and can be used in almost any winter squash recipe.  To get the best out of kabochas, I like to bake in half (with seeds scooped out) at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Place each half face down and add about a half inch of water to the bottom of the baking dish. This will allow some parts of the squash to remain slightly firm while other parts are soft and smooth.  Allow squash to cool for a few minutes then carve out the flesh away from the skin with a large spoon.  Partially mash and add spices that compliment the rest of your meal.


Red Kuri

The red kuri squash is often mistaken for sugar pumpkins as their shape, size, and color are similar. The orange flesh provides a chestnut aftertaste. I like using red kuris for breakfast.  Try adding some mashed red kuri squash into your favorite potato cake recipe.  You could also add small cooked pieces to potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and corned beef for an awesome breakfast hash.


Spaghetti

The name says it all here, spaghetti squash is an excellent alternative to pasta, especially if you are on a gluten free diet.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out.  Place flesh down in a baking dish and add a half inch of water to the dish.  Bake at 450 for 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow squash to cool for a few minutes.  Grab two forks, using one to hold the squash in place and the other to the scrape along the flesh.  As you scrape the flesh it will yield spaghetti-like fibers.  Place all the fibers in a bowl and mix with your favorite pasta sauce.