Winter Squash

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There’s still time to use up the winter squash…. while it’s still cold out! Of course, you can eat the winter squashes all year long.

In fact, I tend to serve up this lentil dish made with butternut squash all year long… especially if I have vegetarian guests!

lentils
Lentils

Roasted butternut squash is good anytime!

Confused about the different winter squashes? Oh, you shouldn’t be. They’re a vibrant hue of orange color, filled with loads of flavor as well as nutrients. There’s still plenty of winter squashes in the stores (and possibly in your winter food storage?). Get it out!

There’s three ‘major’ kinds of winter squash that most of us have access to. These are acorn, butternut and spaghetti.

Acorn Squash

The acorn squash is aptly named as it’s shaped similarly to an acorn. They are typically about 3-4 pounds each. Their small size and their sweet flavor make this squash a great addition to stuffings, wild rice, or for roasting. Roast some with some maple syrup and you might think you’d found nirvana!

When picking an acorn squash look for one that’s green instead of orange as an orange acorn squash is most likely overripened

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash has an interior that’s easy to shred into long strings, much like spaghetti and is a healthy alternative to spaghetti noodles. You roast it first, then shred and can use anywhere you’d use spaghetti type pasta.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash has a similar flavor to pumpkin and their large size gives you plenty of food to fill a family. Can be used in soups, breads and even in pie.

(I hate to admit it… but the first time I cooked an butternut squash, I peeled it with a potato peeler, and a carving knife. I didn’t think I’d ever get it peeled. Silly me. I should’ve cut the bottom and top off so that I had a flat surface then I should’ve used a sharp knife to merely make long slices to remove the skin.)

butternut squash
butternut squash

How to Choose a Winter Squash

Pick a squash that has a hard rind without blemishes or spots. Wrinkled winter squash are not good. They were either picked too soon or of poor quality.

Don’t toss the seeds! Winter squash seeds can be roasted and eaten straight or added to other recipes.

You don’t need to make room in the fridge for your winter squash. They’re happy in a cool dark place. Those you’ve cut open should be sealed and refrigerated no more than 4-5 days before using.

An alternate method to peeling is to pierce the skin (like you would a baking potato) and microwave for a couple minutes. This loosens the skin making it easier to peel.

To roast, just slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray lightly with olive oil, add salt/pepper and bake. It’s done when you can pierce it all the way through very easily with a fork.

butternut squash
butternut squash

Did you know that a half cup of butternut squash has more Vitamin A than the same amount of carrots?

Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new!