Seasonings: So many reasons, but here are some important ones why you should love squash 

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Winter squash wins


Clearly I’m a fan of all seasonal fruits and vegetables. This is a true statement. However, winter squash falls into a special category which is my catch all for favorite dishes. The reasons you should learn to love winter squash like I do are endless. The flavor, nutritional value, and the ease of preparation are great examples. Let’s take a look at all these great characteristics and see if we can add winter squash to your list of favorites as well.

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How many varieties of winter squash are there? Tons. Some you may already be familiar with, such as butternut and acorn squash. There are traditionally decorative squash like pumpkins and cushaw. But let’s not forget an up and coming crowd favorite such as spaghetti squash. All varieties of winter squash are packed with vitamins and minerals including beta carotene, fiber, and vitamin A. They are also low in calories. Spaghetti squash can provide a low carb alternative to traditional pasta. Trust me, it makes delicious spaghetti, fettuccini alfredo, and mac & cheese dishes without all the carbs.

When shopping for squash, look for firm squash that feels heavy for its size. Rinds should have a dull sheen and be intact and hard. Slight variations in color are not important. If the stem is still attached, it should be rounded and dry, not shriveled, blackened or moist. Do not buy squash that is soft or has a cracked, watery, decayed or shiny rind. A small winter squash provides about 2 servings. For example, a small acorn squash could serve 2 people. It would be a perfect side for a romantic dinner for 2. A pound of large squash yields about 4 half-cup servings of cooked pieces, or 1½ cups mashed. Hubbard and butternut squash are great for feeding a crowd.

Something I’ve learned along the way is how not to cut your hand off while peeling a winter squash. It’s extremely easy to do because they have such a hard rind on the outside. I’ve found it easy to just cut the squash in half and run the knife along the edges to remove the peel, sort of like cutting a watermelon. Of you could microwave the squash until it’s soft and the peel is easier to cut away. Honestly, the easiest and most fool proof way to peel a squash is to not cut the peel off in the first place. Cook the squash with the peel on and remove it later. Your fingers will thank you.

My favorite way to prepare any winter squash is to cut it in half and roast it. Any variety tastes great cut into fries, cubes, or in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 400 degrees until soft. I promise they taste sort of like sweet potatoes. At least that’s what I tell my dad to get him to eat squash. You can season it sweet or savory. If you’re going for sweet, season with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a little brown sugar. If savory is the flavor you’re looking for, go with salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic and parmesan cheese.

Leftovers can easily be stored for later use by freezing. Just pack up any cooked squash you have left into a freezer safe container and pop it in the freezer. You can also use leftover roasted squash to make soup, add it into stews, or make breads.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at

Squash-Apple Casserole

2 ½ cups winter squash, such as acorn,

butternut or hubbard

1 ½ cups cooking apples, such as Macintosh,

Granny Smith or Rome

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Wash and prepare squash and apples (for extra

fiber, do not peel apples).

2. Alternate layers of squash and apples in an 8×8

inch pan; layer last with apples.

3. Sprinkle spices over top layer.

4. Cover with aluminum foil.

5. Bake at 350 oF for 45-60 minutes, until squash

is tender