This time of year all of the tasty winter squash start to appear at the farmer’s market.  As we say good-bye to summer squash (tear, tear) we welcome the delicious varieties of winter squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti, buttercup, banana, Cushaw, delicate, Hubbard and turban.  Have you heard of these types of squash? Each one is packed with a unique color, size and sweetness.

Many of my clients ask me, “What’s the difference between summer and winter squash?” Well, that’s simple:  Winter squash are kept on the vine to full maturity, when the seeds are fully grown.  They tend to have a harder skin that helps to maintain their freshness when stored in a cool place over these long winter months.  While winter squash must be served cooked, summer squash, on the other hand can be eaten raw as well as cooked.

My favorite winter squash is spaghetti squash.  Its flesh reminds me of being a kid and sitting down to our family pasta dinners every Sunday evening.  Although I’m not lucky enough to have my father’s homemade pasta sauce, I create my very own sauce using mashed white beans, stewed tomatoes, sesame seeds, basil and balsamic vinegar.

Another delicious winter squash is butternut, which has a more traditional texture and a beige skin with a rich, orange flesh inside.  I enjoy butternut squash in my stews and soups, but it’s also one of my favorite snacks to chop up into chunks and drizzle with agave nectar, lime juice, cinnamon and chili powder.

Other winter squashes have a similar flesh to that of the butternut and remind me of a pumpkin that is reach and creamy when cooked.

Squash can be used in everything from mashed into omelets to oatmeal in the morning; chopped cold into salads, added to casseroles or simply steamed as a simple side dish with sea salt and pepper.

While creating your squash dish, why not opt for a bit of creativity and use the squash shells for soup bowls…hey, it’s less dishes to clean, right?   Save the top to cover the soup in the squash shell and surprise your guests with a special harvest-themed dish.    I also enjoy using smaller squash shells as bowls for dips for appetizers when I am entertaining…it adds a bit of a festivity to the event and the guests love the adorable squash bowls.

Now, it’s Squash Time…get creative in your kitchen and spark up some harvest-themed fun with winter squash.  Share with me your favorite ways to enjoy winter squash.

What is your favorite type of winter squash?

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