Wednesday's In The Know: Winter Squash Varieties
Come Sorel and Hunter Boot season, roasting, stewing or pureeing delicious winter squash is of my upmost priority! Regardless of your desired outcome, winter squash is an incredible side, main or accompaniment for anytime of day! And yes, it’s even delicious for breakfast…trust me!
Let me walk you through the different varieties, thanks to Epicurious for the fantastic picture and overview below, so you know what to look for when you head to the market:
1. Kabocha Squash: “The squat, green kabocha—the Japanese word for squash—has a nutty, earthy flavor with just a touch of sweetness.”
2. Butternut Squash: “A slim neck and bulbous bottom give the butternut squash its distinctive bell shape. The muted yellow-tan rind hides bright orange-yellow flesh with a relatively sweet taste.”
b. Recipes: I have several on my website (thetabletogether.com)! Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili, Wild Arugula Salad with Butternut Squash, Butternut Pear Soup, Butternut Apple Soup, and Roasted Butternut Squash with Thyme.
3. Red Kabocha Squash: “The red kabocha is squat, like its green counterpart, and has faint white stripes running from top to bottom. While the green kabocha is relatively savory, the red kabocha is unmistakably sweeter.”
4. Carnival Squash: “Breed an acorn squash with a sweet dumpling squash, and you get a carnival squash. While the carnival squash's exterior resembles both of its relatives', its yellow flesh is mellow and sweet. Use it wherever acorn squash or butternut squash is called for in a recipe.”
5. Sugar Pumpkin: “If your Halloween pumpkin was small and squat, chances are it was a sugar pumpkin. But more than just decorative, sugar pumpkins are prized for their classic pumpkin flavor, as well as for their thick and flesh-packed walls. If you'd like to opt out of canned pumpkin for your baking and make your own purée instead, reach for a sugar pumpkin.”
6. Sweet Dumpling Squash: “This whitish-yellow and green squash is small and compact, making the whole squash the perfect-size bowl for an individual serving. The flesh tastes very much like sweet potato, and the skin is edible as well. Use sweet dumpling squash in recipes calling for sweet potato or pumpkin.”
7. Spaghetti Squash: “Take a fork to the inside of a cooked spaghetti squash, and you'll understand how this variety got its name. By scraping the flesh, you'll get ‘strings’ that closely resemble noodles. If you're in search of a healthy pasta alternative, try this very mild-tasting squash.”
8. Blue Hubbard Squash: “Most blue Hubbard squash are huge, bumpy, and lumpy and often sold as pre-cut wedges. The particular variety pictured here, the Blue Ballet, is much smaller, making it easier to store and prepare at home. Underneath the gray-blue skin is sweet-tasting orange flesh.”
9. Delicata Squash: “This particular winter squash, with its pale yellow shading, most closely resembles its summer squash cousins. The thin skin is edible, but also more susceptible to bruises and rot. When cooked, the delicata has a consistency similar to that of a sweet potato – creamy and soft – although the flavoring is a bit earthier. For a decorative effect, take advantage of this squash's ridges by slicing width-wise to create scalloped circles or halves; small- to medium-size.”
10. Red Kuri Squash (also known as, Orange Hokkaido, Red Hubbard or Potimarron): “Like all Hubbards, the red kuri has an asymmetrical, lopsided look to it. And like the Blue Ballet variety, the red kuri is smaller and easier to handle. Its yellow flesh is smooth and has a chestnut like flavor.”
11. Buttercup Squash: “Compact and green with paler green striations, the buttercup can closely resemble a kabocha squash. Its distinctive bottom with a circular ridge, though, gives it away. On some, the ridge may surround a more pronounced bump, or "turban." A freshly cut buttercup may smell like a clean, fragrant cucumber, but once cooked, its orange flesh becomes dense, a bit dry, and very mild.”
12. Acorn Squash: “This mildly flavored squash is named for its acorn like shape. Choose one with a dull green rind; an acorn squash that's turned orange will have tough and fibrous flesh.”
Now that you have a very thorough overview of the intricacies of winter squash, I can imagine no better time than now to head to the market and incorporate them into your weeknight cooking.
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Cheers to starting a new tradition around The Table Together!
P.S. Coming in the New Year (TBD March 1), I am launching a YouTube channel, The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis, solely dedicated to bringing all of these fantastic tips and recipes to life! Stay tuned for more info to come…
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