Fall is here and so too are the harvest vegetables representative of the season. Perhaps no other vegetable is more emblematic with autumn than the squash. In fact, on Sept. 23, the home page of Google was decked out in a colorful assembly of squashes.
There are literally dozens of squashes out there, but without question, the pumpkin is "lord of the gourds" during the fall. Jack-o-lanterns are associated with Halloween, of course, but it seems grocery store shelves are all pumpkin inspired as well, be it bread, donuts, ice cream, coffee, hot cocoa and candy. There's even a pumpkin-flavored Chap Stick!
But there's a whole lot more to squashes than pumpkins – each of which can be serve as a side or main course for a family meal. Here's a brief profile on four different squashes, accompanied by a recipe for each that you're whole family is sure to love:
Appropriately named given its shape, the acorn squash comes in various sizes, but tends to be smaller when compared to other varieties. It has a ribbed texture on its exterior, but once you cut inside, the flesh is yellowish orange, sweet to the taste and loaded with vitamin C. Food Network has a Sweet Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash recipe you can whip up in 10 minutes. To serve eight people, you'll only need two acorn squashes and a few more ingredients you probably already have.
"Deep-colored orange flesh tends to produce sweeter flavors."
When you think of squash, this is the one that most people see in their mind's eye. Bell-shaped, with a light tan hue, a standard-sized butternut squash measures about a foot length, but they can get a lot bigger, as any farmer will attest. Its flesh is typically a dark orange, similar in color to what you'd find with a pumpkin. The darker its color, the sweeter it is. It's also high in vitamins A and C.
Nothing says fall like a bowl of soup, and butternut squash pairs well with both creamy and thin soups. Whole Foods Market has a great butternut soup recipe that calls for extra virgin olive oil, celery, onion, fresh thyme and some chicken broth, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
It may not be pasta, but the spaghetti squash is probably the closest thing you'll get to the Italian classic, as when you cut open these oval-shaped gourds, the insides peel off in strands, similar to what you'd find after boiling a pot of spaghetti. They usually weigh between 4 and 8 pounds and are a great source of potassium.
Go for some crunch with spaghetti squash by peppering it with some slivered or sliced almonds. Real Simple has a recipe that serves 10 and uses all-natural ingredients, including fresh lime juice, honey, ground cumin and green onion.
At 1 to 2 pounds, the delicata squash is quite "delicate" when compared to its squash contemporaries. It's also thinner and paler in color, other than its green, vertical stripes that paint its exterior. Also called sweet potato squash, delicata has a similar to taste to this starchy vegetable, and – similar to potatoes in general – is also loaded with potassium.
Delicata squash are ideal for roasting. Eating Well magazine's Chili-Brown Sugar with Pears dish mixes sweet and savory sensations that make this dish one the whole family will enjoy.
Have a favorite squash recipe of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments section below.