Exploring Winter Squash: There's More to Life Than Pumpkin Spice

Updated on May 25, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Winter Squashes (there might be a pumpkin in there)
Winter Squashes (there might be a pumpkin in there)

They've Gone Too Far!

Do you remember the “good old days”? You know what I mean—when Halloween was for children, and Christmas decorations did not appear in stores until the first day of December.

When Memorial Day was a day of remembrance and we honored our heroes on Veterans Day.

When celebrating our nation’s independence was about parades and community celebrations instead of the “right” to inflict pyromania on frightened pets, emotionally wounded soldiers, and the next door neighbor’s cedar shake roof.

When Valentine's Day candy was never seen before the 1st of February, and we didn’t turn every holiday into a three-day weekend.

And when pumpkin appeared once a year, in a pie—on the Thanksgiving Day table.

Pumpkin EVERYTHING!

Source

Now, every sweet substance on the face of the earth is flavored with pumpkin—cookies, cakes, granola, donuts, lattes, frappes, milkshakes, French toast, pancakes, and pop tarts.

And it gets worse—potato chips, pretzels, hummus, yogurt, even kale chips get the pumpkin-spice treatment.

Want something a bit more hearty? There’s pumpkin macaroni and cheese. Pumpkin lasagna.

Even the beverage aisle is not immune. Pumpkin has infiltrated the craft- and micro-brewers. And, believe it or not, Pinnacle has produced a pumpkin-flavored vodka.

Enough Already!!

Julia Child once famously said that “everything is better with butter”.

She said nothing about adding pumpkin to everything you consume.

First, pumpkins are not the only winter squash. There are many others that are easier to cook and bake with, and (in my humble opinion) are better tasting.

Which One Should You Use?

With the exception of spaghetti squash (for obvious reasons), all winter squashes are pretty much interchangeable. You can use any of these in recipes that call for pumpkin.

 winter squashes
winter squashes | Source

List of Winter Squashes

  1. Kabocha--nutty, earthy, slightly sweet. Cook it like an acorn squash.
  2. Butternut--this is my absolute FAVORITE squash and probably the most popular. Shaped like a bowling pin, this squash is easy to peel, and has fewer seeds than other varieties so there is less waste. Sweet and solid, not fibrous.
  3. Red Kabocha--very sweet
  4. Carnival--cross between an acorn and sweet dumpling.
  5. Sugar pumpkin--classic pumpkin flavor. This is the pumpkin cooking/baking (not carving) pumpkin
  6. Sweet dumpling--tastes like a sweet potato
  7. Spaghetti--scrape the cooked flesh with a fork to produce strings that resemble spaghetti. A good alternative for those who are gluten sensitive
  8. Blue hubbard--a much smaller version of the typical hubbard squash.
  9. Delicata--soft and creamy like sweet potato, but with a more earthy flavor. Skin is tender and edible.
  10. Red Kuri--smooth, chestnut-like flavor
  11. Buttercup--cooked flesh is dense, a bit dry, and very mild
  12. Acorn--named for its shape. This one is small enough to feed just two people (or one large appetite). Choose the green ones; those that are golden will be more fibrous and tough.

The Recipes

Squash for breakfast or brunch? The sweet flavor of butternut squash contrasts perfectly with the earthy flavor of russet potato and the salty smoked salmon.

Smoked Salmon Hash with Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 large russet potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon
  • 1 tsp. fresh minced dill, (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the diced potatoes and butternut squash to the pan. Cover and cook about 3 minutes or until the squash and potatoes begin to soften.
  2. Add the onions and cook, uncovered, until the onions soften a bit and the potato and squash are browned and tender.
  3. Mince the smoked salmon and add to the potato/squash/onion hash. Continue to cook and stir until the salmon is heated through.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve.

Squash Bisque

Squash makes a wonderful appetizer when used in this creamy vegetarian soup. Unlike most squash bisques, this one is savory, not sweet.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped (about 5 cups chopped)
  • 5 cups canned low-salt vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook until soft, stirring occasionally--about 7 minutes.
  2. Add chopped sage; stir 1 minute. Add squash and broth.
  3. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is very tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
  4. Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Mix in cheese.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Here are two main dish winter squash recipes that actually taste good (not like pumpkin pie combined with pasta).

Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (or any other hard winter squash such as acorn), about 1.5 lbs
  • 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth, brought to a simmer
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine (not too dry--a Riesling is nice)
  • 1 tsp. finely shredded fresh sage
  • 4 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Gorgonzola (or other bleu cheese of your liking, optional)

Instructions

  1. To begin, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and then peel. Cut the flesh into small (about 1/2-inch) dice. Saute the pumpkin in the butter on low heat until it begins caramelize and softens. (You want it to "give" when pierced with a knife--think texture--done but still slightly firm, not soft and squishy). Remove the pumpkin to a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan saute the onion over medium heat in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and the rice; stir until the rice is coated with oil.
  3. Add the white wine and then about 1 cup of the stock, stir and let simmer over medium-low heat until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process, ladeling in stock, stirring, and simmering until all of the stock is used and the rice is cooked through. This will take about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pumpkin and then the parmesan and fresh sage. Stir until the cheese is blended in and the mixture appears creamy. If desired, crumble a bit of gorgonzola on top of each serving.

Potato Gnocchi With Winter Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, small
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pkg. potato gnocchi, 500 grams (17.6 oz.)
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnuts, crushed
  • grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel, seed, and dice (about 1/2-inch) squash--enough to make about 2 cups. Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and well browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same saute pan, bring the half and half to a simmer over low heat. Add the Gorgonzola and stir until the cheese begins to melt.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and add to the half and half/Gorgonzola mixture in the saute pan. Add the cooked diced squash and spinach and stir gently until the spinach is wilted and all of the gnocchi and squash are coated with sauce and are heated through.
  4. Garnish with hazelnuts and Parmesan cheese.

How to Prepare a Squash (and not Risk a Trip to the Emergency Room)

Winter squash can be rather intimidating, especially to the novice cook. They don't hold still (they are round, hard, and can squirm like a two-year-old). And, they are full of seeds that need to be removed--but how do you get to those seeds without risking the loss of a digit?

I have one word for you--MICROWAVE. View this link to see how to use your microwave oven to soften a winter squash just enough to make it easier to cut, open, and prepare for cooking.

And in Case You Were Wondering, Here are the Stats

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup, cubed
Calories 40
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 10 g3%
Sugar 3 g
Fiber 2 g8%
Protein 1 g2%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 5 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Linda Lum

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 years ago from USA

        That potato gnocchi recipe is something I could try! I just never know what to do with squashes.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Venkat - Yes, that is true. Special celebrations have lost their meaning.

      • Venkatachari M profile image

        Venkatachari M 

        3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

        It is really a matter of concern and worry. We are losing the importance and excitement of festivals that used to be celebrated by associating particular recipes for a particular festival. The food industry has poured water on all those excitements. Now you can get ready made and processed food items all throughout the year and no special touch is left for festive occasions.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Paula - Thanks for your kind words. Do try the bisque if you get a chance. I think you might like it.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Diva.....LOL, I'm still laughing at the "puking pumpkin!!" That's so awful it's funny.

        I do like pumpkin......pie, cake, muffins, cookies.....yeah, all of it.

        When I walked into the store just 2 days ago, I was not at all pleased to see CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE!! C'mon, are they kidding? It's maddening.

        I love this hub Diva. Great recipes....You do nice work!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Happy Tuesday to you Bill. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        3 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Pumpkin lattes....everywhere you go around here it's pumpkin lattes.....sigh! But your first recipe, the salmon, looks fantastic. I'll be giving that one a try...thank you, Linda, and have a terrific Tuesday.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Thank you Chantelle - I love this time of year and the opportunity to use winter squashes in so many ways.

      • Chantelle Porter profile image

        Chantelle Porter 

        3 years ago from Chicago

        You made me so hungry! I think acorn squash is my favorite. Shared on Google+

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        3 years ago from Washington State, USA

        Thank you Jackie - There is so much more to winter squash than the pumpkin spice frenzy.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        3 years ago from The Beautiful South

        This is great and love the puking pumpkin! May have to try that and the recipe with salmon. Sounds like a great way to try it. Thanks for sharing this. Beautifully done.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)