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10 of the Most Popular Varieties of Squash and How to Best Cook Them

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The fall months are some of our favorite. New produce is in season and it's time to get back into the kitchen to embark on a projects of hearty stews, baked goods, and soups. With one of our favorite produce in abundance, the autumn is time to start cooking the kaleidoscope of squash available at the local markets.


What is Squash?

Let's start off with a surprising fact. From a botanical perspective, squash is actually a fruit, not a vegetable. Fruit factor #1 - all squash have seeds inside the produce. Fruit factor #2 - squash form from the flower producing part of the plant. These two things combined technically make it a fruit.


How is Squash Best Eaten?

While technically a fruit, similar to tomatoes, most people categorize squash as a vegetable due to its primarily savory uses. Due to both the flavor and texture, squash is rarely eaten uncooked. While each squash variety has its best uses, generally it's safe to say squash is fabulous when baked and roasted. Their hearty nature also make them wonderful to offset traditional carbs or meat in a meal.


Here are some of our favorite varieties we encourage you to try in your own home cooking.



Roasted Butternut Squash

1. Butternut Squash

Perhaps the favorite of the squash family - Butternut squash. With a long shape and creamy orange flesh, this is a quintessential autumn favorite. Its sweet, nutty flavor makes it ideal for soups, purees, and roasting. The versatility of butternut squash is endless and is a great choice for anything from roasted sheet-pan recipes, hearty stews, soups, roasted and thrown into risottos and lots more.



Roasted Acorn Squash with Butter

2. Acorn Squash

Named for its acorn-like shape, this squash is a flavorful gem and a favorite at the Thanksgiving table in our founder's home. Acorn squash boasts a tender, slightly sweet flesh with a subtle nutty undertone. Halved and roasted with a touch of brown sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon and butter, it becomes a melt-in your mouth autumn treat. These acorn squash halves are also beautiful served stuffed. For a fabulous fall dinner try them stuffed with Italian sausage, mushrooms and rice.


Sliced and Roasted Delicata Squash with Thyme

3. Delicata Squash

Delicata squash, also known as sweet potato squash, is a small, oblong delight with thin, edible skin. They have a sweet and slightly nutty flavor which pairs wonderfully with savory herbs and spices also synonymous with the fall season. Roasted delicata squash sliced into rings is a particularly beautiful way to present this squash which makes for a fabulous side dish. They're delightful flavor is, similar to other squash, enhanced when drizzled with maple syrup or honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.



Halved Spaghetti Squash pulled into thin strands

4. Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash earns its name from its unique flesh, which, when cooked, separates into spaghetti-like strands. Low in calories and carbohydrates, it's an excellent substitute for traditional pasta. A simple roast and a gentle scrape of a fork result in a gluten-free, vegetable-based alternative that pairs beautifully with marinara sauce, pesto, or even as a base for Asian stir-fries.


Kobacha Squash with piece cut out to show bright inside

5. Kobacha Squash

Kabocha squash, often referred to as the "Japanese pumpkin", is a dense, sweet squash with a vibrant orange flesh. Its velvety texture and rich, nutty flavor make it a cherished ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It's a common vegetable included in tempura at Japanese restaurants. Whether simmered in a comforting stew or sliced and tempura-fried, kabocha's versatility shines through in various dishes.



Vibrant Blue and Grey Hubbard Squash in a field

6. Hubbard Squash

Hubbard squash varieties, like the Blue Hubbard and Golden Hubbard, are known for their massive size and vibrant colors. While they look intimidating, if you've never cooked with a Hubbard squash, we encourage you to do so. The skin is thick, but once you break through, these winter squashes have a dense, sweet flesh that lends itself to hearty, long-simmering recipes. Hubbard squash is perfect for creating soups, casseroles, or rich and savory pies.



Stuffed Pattypan Squash in a white baking dish stuffed

7. Pattypan Squash

We just love these cute little squash. Pattypan squash is a summer squash. With its saucer-like shape they add a touch of whimsy to late summer and autumn dishes. These tender, delicate squashes come in various colors and are often stuffed with flavorful fillings before baking. Since their skin is thin, they're also fabulous grilled and sautéed.



Sugar pumpkin also known as Pie pumpkins on a checkered table cloth

8. Sugar Pumpkin

While commonly associated with Halloween, sugar pumpkins are not the typical pumpkin you'd carve. They're smaller and sweeter and taste just like October, if it had a flavor. These small orange squashes are fabulous roasted with sage, thyme or rosemary and of course wonderful with the flavors of sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon that you'd expect. Their rich, earthy flavor and smooth texture contribute to the quintessential taste of autumn.



Closeup of Sweet Dumpling Squash

9. Sweet Dumpling Squash

This beautiful squash is similar to the other squash on the list. Nutty, creamy and firm, it's best roasted and enjoyed with woodsy spices or the sweet mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup or brown sugar. Peeling can be a bit tricky with the shape of the squash, so we recommend slicing and baking then eating around the skin as it can be fairly tough.



Baked and stuffed zucchini filled with cheese, pomodoro sauce and cherry tomatoes

10. Zucchini

Yes, zucchini are squash. While more commonly associated with summer, these green squash have a white and tender inside making them quick to cook. Find smaller zucchini for a sweeter flesh and delicate skin. They're a fabulous addition to pastas, quickly fried as a side dish and are an essential in traditional ratatouille. For a fast weeknight treat, scoop out some of the seeds then stuff with ricotta, mozzarella, pomodoro sauce and halved cherry tomatoes. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until tender and the tomatoes look carmelized.


ABOUT THE CHEF & THE DISH

The Chef & The Dish has chefs around the world that you video conference into your kitchen for a private 1:1 virtual cooking class. Learn how to make pasta with a chef video calling you live from Italy, Pad Thai with a chef virtually in your kitchen live from Thailand. Together you cook, share stories, laugh and make a multi course meal together. Rated 'Best Date Night,' 'Best Gifts,' and "Best Cooking Classes" by WSJ, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Martha Stewart, Rolling Stone and tens more. Transport your kitchen for the day.™

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10 of the Most Popular Varieties of Squash and How to Best Cook Them

The fall months are some of our favorite. New produce is in season and it's time to get back into the kitchen to embark on a projects of hearty stews, baked goods, and soups. With one of our favorite produce in abundance, the autumn is time to start cooking the kaleidoscope of squash available at the local markets.


What is Squash?

Let's start off with a surprising fact. From a botanical perspective, squash is actually a fruit, not a vegetable. Fruit factor #1 - all squash have seeds inside the produce. Fruit factor #2 - squash form from the flower producing part of the plant. These two things combined technically make it a fruit.


How is Squash Best Eaten?

While technically a fruit, similar to tomatoes, most people categorize squash as a vegetable due to its primarily savory uses. Due to both the flavor and texture, squash is rarely eaten uncooked. While each squash variety has its best uses, generally it's safe to say squash is fabulous when baked and roasted. Their hearty nature also make them wonderful to offset traditional carbs or meat in a meal.


Here are some of our favorite varieties we encourage you to try in your own home cooking.



Roasted Butternut Squash

1. Butternut Squash

Perhaps the favorite of the squash family - Butternut squash. With a long shape and creamy orange flesh, this is a quintessential autumn favorite. Its sweet, nutty flavor makes it ideal for soups, purees, and roasting. The versatility of butternut squash is endless and is a great choice for anything from roasted sheet-pan recipes, hearty stews, soups, roasted and thrown into risottos and lots more.



Roasted Acorn Squash with Butter

2. Acorn Squash

Named for its acorn-like shape, this squash is a flavorful gem and a favorite at the Thanksgiving table in our founder's home. Acorn squash boasts a tender, slightly sweet flesh with a subtle nutty undertone. Halved and roasted with a touch of brown sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon and butter, it becomes a melt-in your mouth autumn treat. These acorn squash halves are also beautiful served stuffed. For a fabulous fall dinner try them stuffed with Italian sausage, mushrooms and rice.


Sliced and Roasted Delicata Squash with Thyme

3. Delicata Squash

Delicata squash, also known as sweet potato squash, is a small, oblong delight with thin, edible skin. They have a sweet and slightly nutty flavor which pairs wonderfully with savory herbs and spices also synonymous with the fall season. Roasted delicata squash sliced into rings is a particularly beautiful way to present this squash which makes for a fabulous side dish. They're delightful flavor is, similar to other squash, enhanced when drizzled with maple syrup or honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.



Halved Spaghetti Squash pulled into thin strands

4. Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash earns its name from its unique flesh, which, when cooked, separates into spaghetti-like strands. Low in calories and carbohydrates, it's an excellent substitute for traditional pasta. A simple roast and a gentle scrape of a fork result in a gluten-free, vegetable-based alternative that pairs beautifully with marinara sauce, pesto, or even as a base for Asian stir-fries.


Kobacha Squash with piece cut out to show bright inside

5. Kobacha Squash

Kabocha squash, often referred to as the "Japanese pumpkin", is a dense, sweet squash with a vibrant orange flesh. Its velvety texture and rich, nutty flavor make it a cherished ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It's a common vegetable included in tempura at Japanese restaurants. Whether simmered in a comforting stew or sliced and tempura-fried, kabocha's versatility shines through in various dishes.



Vibrant Blue and Grey Hubbard Squash in a field

6. Hubbard Squash

Hubbard squash varieties, like the Blue Hubbard and Golden Hubbard, are known for their massive size and vibrant colors. While they look intimidating, if you've never cooked with a Hubbard squash, we encourage you to do so. The skin is thick, but once you break through, these winter squashes have a dense, sweet flesh that lends itself to hearty, long-simmering recipes. Hubbard squash is perfect for creating soups, casseroles, or rich and savory pies.



Stuffed Pattypan Squash in a white baking dish stuffed

7. Pattypan Squash

We just love these cute little squash. Pattypan squash is a summer squash. With its saucer-like shape they add a touch of whimsy to late summer and autumn dishes. These tender, delicate squashes come in various colors and are often stuffed with flavorful fillings before baking. Since their skin is thin, they're also fabulous grilled and sautéed.



Sugar pumpkin also known as Pie pumpkins on a checkered table cloth

8. Sugar Pumpkin

While commonly associated with Halloween, sugar pumpkins are not the typical pumpkin you'd carve. They're smaller and sweeter and taste just like October, if it had a flavor. These small orange squashes are fabulous roasted with sage, thyme or rosemary and of course wonderful with the flavors of sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon that you'd expect. Their rich, earthy flavor and smooth texture contribute to the quintessential taste of autumn.



Closeup of Sweet Dumpling Squash

9. Sweet Dumpling Squash

This beautiful squash is similar to the other squash on the list. Nutty, creamy and firm, it's best roasted and enjoyed with woodsy spices or the sweet mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup or brown sugar. Peeling can be a bit tricky with the shape of the squash, so we recommend slicing and baking then eating around the skin as it can be fairly tough.



Baked and stuffed zucchini filled with cheese, pomodoro sauce and cherry tomatoes

10. Zucchini

Yes, zucchini are squash. While more commonly associated with summer, these green squash have a white and tender inside making them quick to cook. Find smaller zucchini for a sweeter flesh and delicate skin. They're a fabulous addition to pastas, quickly fried as a side dish and are an essential in traditional ratatouille. For a fast weeknight treat, scoop out some of the seeds then stuff with ricotta, mozzarella, pomodoro sauce and halved cherry tomatoes. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until tender and the tomatoes look carmelized.


ABOUT THE CHEF & THE DISH

The Chef & The Dish has chefs around the world that you video conference into your kitchen for a private 1:1 virtual cooking class. Learn how to make pasta with a chef video calling you live from Italy, Pad Thai with a chef virtually in your kitchen live from Thailand. Together you cook, share stories, laugh and make a multi course meal together. Rated 'Best Date Night,' 'Best Gifts,' and "Best Cooking Classes" by WSJ, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Martha Stewart, Rolling Stone and tens more. Transport your kitchen for the day.™




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