We’re already well into fall which means you probably have turned your ovens back on and started roasting all those great fruits and vegetables that fare so well after caramelizing in the oven. Winter squash have reappeared at the farmers’ markets and are an excellent ingredient in many dinner (and dessert) recipes. There are many different types of squash and all have different flavors, textures and sizes. Similarly to apples, each type is useful for a different purpose. Winter squash are also loaded with vitamin A and C, and lots of fiber. Technically, because of their seeds, squash is considered a fruit!
The most popular squash you’ll find at your supermarket are butternut, acorn, and spaghetti. However, stop by any local market, and you’ll discover many more!
Acorn squash- 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. It has a bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste.
Butternut squash- 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 fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor.
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.
Carnival squash- Cream colored with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in vertical stripes. Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. It is sometimes labeled as a type of acorn squash.
Delicata squash- Also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. The squash can be baked or steamed and the thin skin is also edible.
Fairytale Pumpkin squash- French name is "Musquee de Provence." The fruits are flattened like a cheese but each rib makes a deep convolution. The Fairytale Pumpkin is a very unique eating and ornamental pumpkin. It's thick but tender, and the deep orange flesh is sweet, thick, and firm. It’s best for baking.
Kabocha squash- Kabocha is the generic Japanese word for squash, but refers most commonly to a squash of the buttercup type. This squash has a green, bluish-gray or a deep orange skin. The flesh is deep yellow.
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.
If you feel like doing some experimentation with squash, here's a recipe from our cookbook!
Autumn Harvest Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
1 medium butternut squash
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 crisp apple (such as Braeburn, Empire, or Crispin), peeled, cored, and chopped
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing it with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds an the strings. Rub the oil all over the cut surface of the squash, and place it, flesh side down, in a baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the squash is soft to the touch. Let the squash cool. When it is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the baked squash.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the squash and the apples, and mix for 1 minute.
6. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until combined, about 10 seconds. Make sure to scrape down your sides and that all is included.
7. Take the bowl off the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and gently rap the pan on the counter top to even it out. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the batter.
8. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment paper, and turn the cake back over onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
If you want some more, here are a few more recipes from around the blogosphere...
Warm butternut and chickpea salad from Smitten Kitchen… http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/01/warm-butternut-squash-and-chickpea-salad/
Kaboch thai curry from Food 52…. http://food52.com/blog/8597-kabocha-squash-curry
Butternut squash, chanterelle, and brie pizza from Heather Christo… http://www.heatherchristo.com/cooks/2013/10/14/butternut-squash-chantrelle-and-brie-pizza/
Butternut spice blondies from Eat Live Run… http://www.eatliverun.com/butternut-spice-blondies/
Roasted heirloom pumpkin and squash with ricotta salata from What’s Gaby Cooking… http://whatsgabycooking.com/roasted-heirloom-pumpkin-and-squash-with-ricotta-salata-and-pomegranate-seeds/#.Unp16_nryR8
Butternut nachos from NYC blogger How Sweet It Is… http://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/11/butternut-mushroom-and-fontina-nachos-with-crispy-sage/