Wonderful Winter Squashes

It's the most wonderful time of year (for squash)!

Come wintertime, butternut, buttercup and acorn squashes should be on your radar

Winter is peak season for a variety of succulent squashes, and with so many to choose from, you can’t go wrong

Nothing is quite as satisfying as growing winter squash. It’s the crop that keeps on giving as the squash will store long past picking, through autumn and into winter.

Wondering what to do with all that bounty? Here are some fresh ways to prepare and serve your homegrown winter squash – butternut, buttercup and acorn. Plus some food for thought as you’re searching seed catalogues to decide which variety of squash to grow next year.

Butternut Squash

The abundantly rich deep-orange flesh of butternut squash makes this variety one of the for creamed soups or to add to savory meat or vegetarian stews. Butternut squash is not the largest squash but certainly a heavy one. This makes it expensive to buy, which is another good reason to grow it at home.

Butternut squash soup is one of the more popular
squash dishes

Once it is halved and seeded this variety actually has a relatively small cavity, making it less than ideal for stuffing and baking. Instead, roast the plentiful squash flesh, then puree it with stock to make into soup. Hint: roast apple, pear, garlic or onion along with your squash slices to add body and flavour to soup.

Buttercups and Turk’s Turban

Buttercups are incredibly flavourful and possess a deep saffron orange colour with a flavour reminiscent of sweet potato. They are wonderful split and roasted, stuffed and baked and the flesh also makes decadent creamy base for pies, muffins or cakes. To use in baking, simply roast the squash and spoon out the flesh to substitute in any recipe calling for cooked pumpkin.

The whimsically shaped Turk’s turban is also a buttercup and despite its obvious decorative appeal is even better utilized for cooking and baking. Try basting the cut halves of this buttercup with maple syrup before roasting to bring out its subtle sweetness.

Acorn Squash

Perhaps the most attractive winter squashes (and some of the easiest to grow) are the perfectly shaped acorns. Available with green or golden skin, the flesh of acorn squash is sweet and moister than other squashes. It has a relatively large cavity which makes it perfect for stuffing, either whole or halved, with savoury rice or bread stuffing.

You can also stuff a whole acorn squash. Simply slice off the stem end, clean the cavity and remove seeds and stuff with your favourite stuffing. Replace the cut end and wrap the whole squash in foil. Bake at 375 degrees until the squash is tender, about 30 – 45 minutes. Allow it to cool slightly and then slice the squash into neat rounds of stuffed rings for serving.