Isn’t winter squash pretty? I think so, too! :) I love all fruits and vegetables, but winter squash is by far one of my favorites. Pretty bold statement, eh? Well, what’s not to love about a vegetable that is incredibly colorful, very versatile, naturally nutritious and sweet?
Want to learn about this delicious and nutritious vegetable? Please watch our video or keep reading for more information and simple tips on how to use winter squash.
Nutrition: Squash are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber.
Selection: When choosing squash, look for small- to medium-sized fruit that feel heavy for their size. Select squash that have bright, glossy skins that are firm to touch and avoid any squash with soft spots or cracks.
Storage: Store unwashed winter squash in a cool, dark place for up to three months. Once cut, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Preparation: Wash squash under cool, running water. Depending on the variety, slice off both ends and remove the skin, if desired. Slice squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon. Scrape out any additional fibrous flesh before cutting into desired size and shape.
Cooking Methods: Squash are great grilled, baked, pureed, steamed, roasted, and microwaved.
Here are some of our favorite winter squash varieties and a few ways we like to prepare each:
One of the most versatile veggies, butternut squash’s soft-textured, bright orange flesh makes it a perfect addition to smooth soups or creamy casseroles. Or, use butternut squash to make one of our favorite recipes: Butternut Squash Soup, Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash or Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
For a flavor-packed side dish or mini meal, simply roast acorn squash plain, or stuff it with extra goodies, like cooked whole grains, dried fruits and nuts. If you’re looking for even more acorn squash ideas, try one of these delicious recipes: Glazed Squash, Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Pistachios, Acorn Squash Bisque or Acorn Squash with Cinnamon Butter.
Long, skinny and full of color, delicata squash has a soft skin that can be enjoyed after roasting. Although delicious simply roasted with just a little olive oil, try one of these tasty delicata squash recipes for even more flavor: Roasted Delicata & Red Onions, Delicata with Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds, Delicata and Roasted Mushrooms with Thyme or Delicata Squash Salad with Kale and Cranberry Beans.
Delicious, nutritious and kid-friendly, spaghetti squash is a great pasta substitute or scrumptious side dish. In fact, our dietitian team enjoys eating spaghetti squash straight out of the “bowl” naturally created by the squash’s skin. Try our simple, Baked Spaghetti Squash (below) or enjoy one of these savory spaghetti squash recipes: Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms & Spinach, Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs, Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Herbs or Spaghetti Squash Gratin.
Baked Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup spaghetti sauce (optional)
- Remove ends of squash. Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds. Place flesh sides down in a microwaveable safe dish with ½ inch of water. Microwave for 10-15 minutes or until squash is slight soft to touch. Allow to cool slightly before handling.
- Remove squash from water. Use fork to shred squash. Add olive oil, 2 Tbsp. parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix together. Top with spaghetti sauce (optional) and remaining 2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese.
Yield: 2 servings
*Per Serving: Calories 147, Total Fat 10g (Saturated 3g, Trans 0g), Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 210mg, Total Carbohydrate 10g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 4g), Protein 5g, Vitamin A 5%, Vitamin C 9%, Calcium 7%, Iron 3%
*Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.
Emily Schwartz is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with Festival Foods.