The Sweet and Savory Side to Winter Squash
Much to my delight, winter squash have always marked the arrival of Fall. These festive vegetables are actually harvested in early fall and stored throughout the winter. There are so many varieties to choose from—acorn, butternut, kabocha, buttercup, hubbard and more. They often make me wonder why pumpkins get all the glory this time of year!
But with their hard rind, tough flesh, and often knobbly appearance it is not surprising that preparing winter squash might seem like a daunting task. With a few tips, you will be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate this hearty vegetable into your Fall and Winter meal repertoire!
Preparing Winter Squash
Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. You could also cut in quarters, wedges, or cubes. If the squash is too hard to slice, microwave on high for 3 minutes or look for pre-cut pieces at the grocery store.
Cooking Winter Squash
Just like a potato, there are many different ways to cook winter squash. They can be baked, steamed, stir-fried, microwaved, stuffed, or roasted. Roasting winter squash enhances flavour and is my preferred method because there is no peeling or chopping required! Simply bake in a lightly oiled roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until tender. Once the squash is done, you can easily scoop out the soft flesh.
Enjoying Winter Squash
There are endless ways to transform your winter squash into a delicious and healthy meal – both savory and sweet! Each type of squash offers a unique flavour, but can be easily substituted for one another in any recipe. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a colourful alterative to mash potatoes
- Use it for burrito filling – try squash, black beans, avocado, and cheese
- Add to your favourite pasta dish – toss diced roasted squash with pasta, olive oil and parmesan or add pureed squash to homemade mac and cheese for a surprisingly creamy sauce
- Add roasted squash to soups, stews, or chilli – try pureeing baked squash with vegetable broth, and low-fat milk or soymilk for a delicious soup
- Top a salad with roasted squash for a light meal – pairs well with dark greens, walnuts, cranberries and feta cheese
- Create an edible bowl for leftovers with twice-baked stuffed squash
- Enjoy with chopped nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup for an easy and nutritious dessert
- Mix with yogurt and pumpkin spice and layer with granola for a new take on yogurt parfait
- Try squash for breakfast on oatmeal, pancakes or waffles
So, I challenge you to try a new winter squash recipe this Fall!
About Emilia Moulechkova
Originally from the Lower Mainland, Emilia started her career with Northern Health as a dietetic intern in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles as a Registered Dietitian with the population health team. In her current role, she supports schools across the north in their efforts to promote healthy eating. Emilia is passionate about food’s role in bringing people and communities together, and all the ways it can support physical, mental, and social health. Her overall philosophy on healthy eating can be summarized by this Ellyn Satter quote: “When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful northern outdoors by foot, skis, bike, or canoe!