We see the displays this time of year, squash of different shapes, colors and sizes in bins at grocery stores and harvest festivals. Many of us don’t know quite what to do with them beyond Thanksgiving dinner or fall table decorations.
Winter squash, as they are often called, refers to a myriad of colorful squashes. The name is a bit of a misnomer as winter squashes are actually harvested in the fall, but get the moniker because the fruit (yes, fruit) has a long shelf life and stores well over the winter. Another benefit, winter squash packs a healthy punch, providing a good dose of riboflavin and iron as well as vitamin C and A.
So let’s get cooking. Most likely you’re already familiar with pumpkins, butternut and spaghetti squash, but there are many others you should consider adding to your meals this time of year. Be adventurous and try some of the more “exotic” squash that are available now.
Delicata squash is a great option for fans of butternut squash. It’s like a richer, creamier version with the added bonus of being smaller and easier to cut, clean and cook. Try roasting the squash, and use a metal pan if you like it caramelized.
Kabocha squash is often referred to as a Japanese pumpkin. Wildly popular in Japan, is now catching on here in the United States.
When roasted it takes on the flavor of roasted chestnuts. You can use it the same way you would use butternut or pumpkin. The Japanese often use it in tempura.
When picking out a winter squash look for a hard, cork-like stem and deep color. It’s OK if there’s a pale spot, that’s where it rested on the ground. Just make sure there are no cracks. Don’t worry about refrigeration, store the squash in a cool dark place, it will keep for up to three months. You’ll know it’s past its prime if it starts to get soft. You’ll want to throw those out.
Still need inspiration? Check out the NevadaGrown cookbook for some ideas. It’s time to give winter squash a place on your dinner plate and not just the dinner table.