'Tis the season of pumpkins and squashes! Pumpkins and winter squash are everywhere this time of year. Roasted or baked, steamed or sautéed, or pureed and put into smoothies, pies, or homemade bread, winter squash are some of the most delicious and versatile ingredients of the season.
There are so many varieties to choose from! If you haven’t heard of kabocha, blue Hubbard or red kuri, now’s the time to try something new!
Flavor: Acorn squash has a mild, subtly sweet and nutty flavor. This skin is also edible.
How to use it: Like most varieties of winter squash, acorn squash is really versatile. It can be baked, roasted, steamed, sautéed, or even cooked in the microwave.
Flavor: Buttercup squash has a sweet, creamy flavor and is considered sweeter than other winter squash varieties.
How to use it: The flesh tends to be dry, so steaming and baking are the best methods for cooking this squash. And its firm texture makes it ideal for a curry.
Flavor: This is the sweetest variety of winter squash.
How to use it: Butternut squash is extremely versatile. It’s perfect for roasting and sautéing, or making a smooth purée or soup.
Flavor: Delicata has creamy flesh with a mild flavor akin to sweet potatoes.
How to use it: The skin on this small squash is edible, so don’t worry about cutting it off. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, then you can either bake it as is, or cut it into slices which can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed. Delicata squash is also ideal for stuffing.
Flavor: Hubbard squash has a rich, sweet pumpkin flavor.
How to use it: While the hard exterior is generally discarded, the sweet orange flesh can be substituted for any other variety of winter squash. It’s ideal for both cooking and baking, and is especially great for making pie.
Flavor: Kabocha squash is remarkably sweet with a nice nutty flavor, and texture that’s similar to a blend of sweet potato and pumpkin.
How to use it: Kabocha squash is very versatile and can be used as a substitute for any other winter squash. It can be roasted or steamed, added to soup, or used for a pie filling.
Flavor: No, spaghetti squash doesn’t actually taste like spaghetti. It has a tender, chewy, fragile texture, and a very mild flavor. Unlike other winter squash varieties, it lacks sweetness.
How to use it: Roast or steam it, then scrape out the strands. Top with marinara, pesto, or mix in other veggies, and eat it as you would spaghetti.
Flavor: Red Kuri has creamy yellow flesh, with a smooth texture and taste similar to cooked chestnuts. In fact, the word "kuri" is Japanese for chestnut.
How to use: The smooth and sweet Red Kuri squash pairs well with creamy ingredients like dairy and coconut milk. These squash also go well with herbs, beans, curry, and spices. Try it in casseroles, soups, curries, or bake it into pies and muffins.
And of course there is the field pumpkin, the ones you use for carving Jack-o-Lanterns:
Flavor: The larger field pumpkins — ones you’d put on your front porch — are best left for decoration since they’re dry and flavorless. The smaller variety, sugar pumpkins, have a sweet, earthy taste.
How to use it: You can use smaller pumpkins just as you would other varieties of winter squash — bake, roast, or purée them. Pumpkin is ideal for soup, curries, and of course, pies and carving!