Kind Re-Gourds: How To Select And Cook 8 Winter Squash Varieties image

Kind Re-Gourds: How To Select And Cook 8 Winter Squash Varieties

November 11, 2022 by 4P Foods

You may be wondering what local produce there is to look forward to as it gets colder outside and farmers’ harvests slow down. One of our favorite parts of this season is the variety of gourd-geous local winter squash that is available. 

During this time of the year, we have plenty of winter squash such as pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, and decorative gourds.  If you are daunted by cooking these delicious, cold-season crops, don’t worry, we’ll get you acquainted! 

Winter squash has thick, dense skin that is often brightly colored. They naturally grow in a variety of patterns, textures, and shapes. The flesh of winter squash is nutritious with natural sweetness that intensifies when they are cooked. Winter squash are hearty, so they can be roasted, boiled, mashed, and braised. They’re great in soups, stews, casseroles, breads, and desserts. Let’s get cooking!

Reduce food waste with this tip: Winter squash seeds can be roasted and eaten as a nutritious snack!

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash grows with a long neck and a round end containing seeds. Butternut has thin, firm, light tan skin and flesh that is bright orange. Cooked butternut squash has a sweet and slightly nutty taste. 

Its odd shape makes butternut squash more difficult to peel. An easier option is to cut it in half and roast it in the oven first.

SPECIAL VARIETY: 4P Foods sources a special variety of butternut squash called 898 Butternut squash. This variety is a miniature version of butternut squash, so that the sweetness is even more concentrated. 

RECIPE: Butternut squash is a great ingredient for Vegan Mac and Cheese

Acorn Squash

Roast and use as an edible bowl.

Acorn squash, like its name suggests, comes in a delightful acorn shape. Its dense, thick skin is most often a dark emerald green with golden markings. It has bright orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy Acorn squash is to cut it in half and roast it in the oven with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. For a bit more sweetness, you can also use a little maple syrup. Bonnie (our Member Experience Wizard) loves to roast acorn squash this way and use it as an edible bowl for homemade chili because the natural sweetness is an excellent compliment to savory dishes.

RECIPE: We love thisVegetarian Stuffed Squash recipe with Veggie and Grain blends, walnuts, and dried cranberries from I Heart Veggies! 

Spaghetti Squash

Perfect for pasta night.

The name says it all! When cooked, spaghetti squash naturally creates the shape of thin noodles. It’s an easy vegetable to include during pasta night, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional noodles. Once the Spaghetti squash is cooked, you can use a fork to separate the noodle-shaped squash from the skin and add your favorite pasta sauce. Here is a simple guide on how to make your Spaghetti squash noodles.

Spaghetti squash comes in a soft buttery yellow color with a hard, smooth skin. It’s usually shaped like an egg, making it easy to cut in half and roast in the oven to get delicious noodles.

RECIPE: For a more creative recipe than your standard Spaghetti Squash pasta, try this Spaghetti Squash Cheesy Bread

Delicata Squash

Easy to cut and roast.

Out of all the winter squash, Delicata squash is the best option to slice up into smaller pieces and roast. It has a small, cylinder shape and thinner skin than most winter squash, making it much easier to cut without being peeled. The skin is also edible! Delicata squash has a slightly grooved texture and its skin is usually yellow with long, vertical green stripes. It has a sweet, mellow, and creamy taste, contrasting its thin but slightly more chewy skin.

For Delicata squash, it is important to make sure the slices are separated enough so that they can brown evenly and have a more consistent caramelized flavor. Here are some tips on how to perfectly roast Delicata Squash slices to get you started. 

Recipe ideas: Delicata Squash Rings roasted with butter and a little maple syrup! 

Kabocha Squash

Tastes similar to sweet potato or pumpkin.

Kabocha squash (AKA Japanese pumpkin) is quite popular in Japan. Although, it is believed to have originated first in the Americas before gaining popularity in Asia and Europe. It has a round, squat shape and is usually dark green in color with light yellow markings. Kabocha squash has deep orange flesh that has a taste similar to sweet potato or pumpkin. Kabocha squash has a harder shell so it can be a bit harder to cut with a knife. This squash holds its shape well and is excellent cooked in a variety of ways.

HOT TIP: You can microwave a Kabocha squash for a few minutes to make cutting it easier.

RECIPE: You can use Kabocha squash to make a delicious autumn-themed (and gluten-free) Gnocchior a healthy Kabocha Squash Miso Soup

Koginut Squash

 A hybrid of both butternut squash and kobocha squash.

We love them, but koginut squash can be best described as “kind of cute, kind of weird-looking.” They can be shaped like a pumpkin with more ridges, or they can have a more cube-like appearance. 

They are a newer variety of squash that is a hybrid of butternut squash and koginut squash. Koginut squash has light tan skin like butternut squash. When cooked, its flesh is sweet and tender. The skin is thin and edible.

RECIPE: Roasted Koginut Squash Salad with sweet and savory spices is a fall favorite. 

Pie Pumpkin 

Perfect for homemade pumpkin puree.

Pie Pumpkin (AKA Sugar Pumpkin) is the kind of pumpkin we like to eat, not carve. Pie Pumpkins are smaller and denser than Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins, but otherwise have the same appearance. Pie Pumpkins have a sweet dense flesh that make them great for, well, pie!

RECIPE: Of course we are going to suggest homemadepumpkin pie. If savory is more your style try cozy and creamy roasted pumpkin soup. Don’t forget to save the seeds

Red Kuri Squash

“Kuri” is Japanese for “chestnut.” Named for its sweet, nutty flavor.

Red Kuri squash (AKA onion squash) is adorably small, teardrop or onion shaped, and red in color. Red Kuri squash is native to Japan and the name “Kuri” is Japanese for “chestnut.” The squash is named for its sweet, nutty flavor. 

Red Kuri squash has hard skin and is usually roasted with the skin on. Once roasted, the skin is tender enough to eat. 

RECIPE: Red Kuri Coconut Soup for a comforting dish in the winter, or Chipotle Red Kuri Squash with Chickpeas.


Gourd-geous Nutrition Facts: Winter Squash Does A Lot

  • Low glycemic index despite their natural sweetness. This makes them a great vegetable to add to the menu for people living with diabetes. 
  • Some varieties such as butternut squash are similar in taste to sweet potatoes, but with fewer carbohydrates. 
  • Contain polysaccharides, a type of fiber that can prevent blood sugar from rising. 
  • Help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. 
  • Help aid eye health.
  • Lessen digestive issues. 
  • Rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium. 
  • High amounts of nutrients such as carotenoids and vitamin C.
  • Contain a high amount of compounds like beta-carotene and lutein that protect human cells.