Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
CSA boxes will soon be stocked with winter squash—veggies rich in carotenoids, pigments your body uses to create vision-helping vitamin A. Thomas Meyer, chef instructor at Kendall College, offers tips for enjoying these seasonal stars.
1. Butternut Squash
A sweet and nutty-tasting variety, butternut squash tends to offer more flesh and fewer seeds.
GOOD FOR Roasting for a sweet or savory side or a puréed, creamy soup
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup
Toss 2 cups peeled and cubed squash with 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp curry powder, then roast at 350°, turning once, for 30 minutes. Cool, then mash with a fork and blend with 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth. Garnish with cream or plain Greek yogurt.
STORE IT In a cool, dry pantry for up to a month.
PREP IT Use a chef’s knife to slice off ends. Peel skin. Where neck ends, halve squash, then slice neck flesh into cubes. Halve body lengthwise. Remove seeds, and cut into cubes.
SEASON IT Toss cubes with olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper, and salt prior to roasting.
2. Acorn Squash
This squash gets its name from its acornlike shape. It’s sweeter than the butternut but less nutty, and stronger tasting than the spaghetti squash.
GOOD FOR Roasting and drizzling with maple syrup, or mixing into rice pilaf
Recipe: Acorn Squash Rice Pilaf
In a large pan over medium heat, sauté 1 cup diced squash in 1 ½ tbsp olive oil. Add 1 ¼ cups brown rice and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 1 ¼ cups water; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
STORE IT In a cool, dry pantry for up to three months.
PREP IT If the squash’s skin is very tough, poke holes in it with a fork and microwave for a few minutes. Cut squash in half, and then peel and de-seed.
SEASON IT Brush squash halves with olive oil, then drizzle with maple syrup and dust with cinnamon prior to roasting.
See also Kabocha Squash Pie
3. Spaghetti Squash
Like its name suggests, this squash’s stringy insides imitate spaghetti noodles when cooked. With a mildly sweet and nutty flavor, it’s versatile in many dishes, as its cooked texture is similar to al dente spaghetti.
GOOD FOR Substituting for spaghetti or as a base for a veggie-noodle casserole or “pasta” salad
Recipe: Squash Pasta
On a baking sheet, roast squash at 350°, 30 minutes. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté seeded, stringy squash flesh in 1 tbsp olive oil until tender, 10–15 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.
STORE IT In a cool, dry pantry for up to two months.
PREP IT Slice squash in half and scoop out seeds. After roasting, remove flesh with a fork.
SEASON IT Toss cooked squash “noodles” with pesto, black pepper, and salt.
See also Winter Squash Primer