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All Squashed Up

Posted Nov 09 2009 10:02pm

So, as the weather gets colder, all I want to do is bake delicious meals that incorporate all the colors, tastes, and scents of the season. If you’re into that too, one good way to do so is to pick up some squash!

It seems right to go for “winter squash,” but that doesn’t actually mean “in season in the winter” — it just means that it has a thick rind. (Summer squash, like zucchini, has a thinner rind.) Winter squash is also drier than summer squash. One nice thing is that it keeps a while — you can store winter squash fresh in cool, dark places for up to three months. If it has a big, woody stem like a pumpkin or a butternut squash, leave the stem on when you store it; if it has a soft stem, like a banana squash, cut the stem a few inches before storing to retain moisture.

Here are some of the popular varieties that are in season right now.

Acorn squash comes in three different colors: green, yellow, and white. It’s small, so it’s good for the single girl, and it has a great presentation — it looks great stuffed or hollowed out as a bowl for a winter soup. It has a naturally sweet flavor.

Buttercup squash is a little green guy, with vertical gray stripes and tastes similar to a sweet potato.

Butternut squash is cream-colored and shaped, like, well, a phallus. It’s a very common variety and has a nutty flavor.

Kabocha squash is known as the Japanese squash or Japanese pumpkin. It’s green with spotted streaks of teal and has sweet, tender, pumpkin-like flesh — but it isn’t stringy like pumpkin. (Which is great, because I hate pumpkin guts.) I feel like this squash is getting more and more popular!

Spaghetti squash is just fun! Its meat separates into long, blond, spaghetti-like strands as it cooks. It can be used like spaghetti, on a plate with some red sauce, or you can put it in salads and casseroles. It has a mellow taste and is slightly crisp; the more yellow the rind is, the riper the squash is!

A cup of squash has about 100 calories and is packed with tons of good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s inexpensive and seriously versatile. And it’s often available pre-cut in the refrigerated section at grocery stores — perfect if you’re a squash-craving college student with access to a microwave. We already had Matt’s amazing meatless squash pasta, but I feel like the possibilities are really endless, so I’ll definitely be cooking with all the varieties more as the season progresses!

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