“Winter Squash” is a bit of a misnomer. In truth, these vegetables really come into season in late summer and early fall. When the temperatures start to drop, I find myself looking for ways to use all the pretty pumpkin that accumulates in grocery stores, markets, and farm stalls. Luckily for all of us too, their buttery flavors are the perfect addition to soups, salads, And pasta, and even stands as the hero in many of the gods first courses without meat I will eat all season.
You may already know some of the vegetables that fall into this family. Butternut and pumpkin noodles have become a fan favorite in recent years, but I’d also recommend trying a recipe that includes delicate or red kuri squash this fall. Keep scrolling for tips on identifying the seven most popular varieties of winter squash plus a few recipes to try below.
I stumbled upon Whole Foods and was amazed at the endless varieties of squash and gourds they had available. Honestly, you need a guide to navigate through all the options and we’re here to help!
To find out if a squash is ripe, you’ll need to check the outside. The peel should be a dull color (if it is shiny, it is not yet ripe) and it should have a hard exterior.
I got the kabocha squash, mild squash, sugar squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and red kuri squash. Couldn’t help but grab some mini pumpkins and gourds too! These are mainly used for decoration, but can be found in some recipes.
See how cute these mini white pumpkins are! So many DIY ideas come to mind on how to use them this fall.
Many shapes, sizes and colors! Here’s how to identify the seven most popular winter squashes:
- Kabocha – squat, green squash with faint white lines running up and down the surface
- Delicate – yellow cylindrical gourd with green and orange stripes along the ridges
- Sugared Pumpkin – small, almost perfectly spherical pumpkin in bright orange
- Acorn – dark green pumpkin with thick ridges all around
- Butternut – Bell shaped pumpkin with a light peach yellow exterior
- spaghetti – round cylindrical gourd with a bright yellow exterior
- Kuri Red red – Warm orange squash with a lopsided shape
Try picking up a pumpkin you haven’t tried the next time you’re in the grocery store. For me, the hardest part of trying new foods is finding ways to incorporate them into recipes. Below I have listed seven delicious recipes with each variety of winter squash.
Try these seven recipes to satisfy your winter squash cravings all season long.
Kabocha Pumpkin, Fennel and Ginger Soup with Spicy Coconut Cream, Dolly’s and Oatmeal
Why we like it: This soup is so creamy and comforting, it might come as a shock that it’s not only vegan, but gluten-free as well. Best paired with an afternoon spent wandering around the house in your softest pair of slippers and a favorite fall sweater. Kabocha squash shines with the addition of some aromatic alliums (leeks and garlic) plus a crucial coconut cream topping. Cue all the cozy vibes.
Hero Ingredient: I officially want all my soups to be topped with a spicy coconut cream. An eighth of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper packs just the right amount of heat.
Delicate Kale Salad with Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Goat Cheese, from Fox & Briar
Why we like it: I love a salad that doubles as a gorgeous centerpiece on any fall table. Colorful and full of all the components of my ideal autumn dinner (cabbage, spelled, goat cheese and delicate pumpkin), this is the salad I’ve dreamed of eating since summer.
Hero Ingredient: Pomegranate seeds are the juicy, jewel-like magical ingredient that transforms this dish from a simple (but delicious) salad to a real drool.
Fried focaccia with pumpkin and sage, by Foodie Crush
Why we like it: This focaccia is sure to be the most delicious slice of elevated pizza you’ve ever tasted. Here’s the thing though: it’s deceptively easy to prepare. If you opt for the ready-made piadina (which, in a pinch, is entirely justified), you just have to roast your sugar pumpkin and garnish the base with the remaining ingredients. The recipe recommends serving it alongside a cup or bowl of soul-warming tomato soup. It doesn’t matter if I do.
Hero Ingredient: Fried sage alone is revealing to say the least. Paired with pumpkin, aged cheese and chipotle glaze? Amazing.
Pumpkin Spaghetti With Basil Pesto, by Minimalist Baker
Why we like it: Pumpkin spaghetti has stolen many hearts as it has proven to be a near-perfect substitute for pasta. While it retains a slightly sweet bite, the delicate, almost neutral flavor of the spaghetti squash makes it an ideal pairing with garlic and basil pesto.
Hero Ingredient: As a vegan substitute for the typical Parmesan in pesto, nutritional yeast provides not only a distinctly cheesy flavor, but a richness that really can’t be matched.
Acorn squash stuffed with quinoa salad, from Love & Lemons
Why we like it: There really isn’t a more perfect container for a herbaceous, lightly fruity quinoa salad than roasted acorn squash. If you are looking for recipes to add to yours thanks arsenal that is heavy on the flavor and light on the stomach (because we all need more room for cake), consider this a quick fix to prepare.
Hero Ingredient: Dijon mustard in the dressing gives this dynamic dish a pungent, tangy tang, as well as a little spice.
Butternut & Brie Pumpkin Soup With Crispy Bacon, Harvested Half Cooked
Why we like it: There’s really no better way to celebrate soup season than with a recipe that brings together the alliterative pairing of pumpkin and brie. It’s usually a few weeks in October that I start craving all the hearty, hearty flavors of late fall and winter, and this soup delivers spoon after spoon of everything I crave.
Hero Ingredient: Crispy and salty bacon. Creamy and buttery Brie. Hazelnut and sweet pumpkin. I won’t even try to name a winner – it’s definitely a three-way draw.
Roasted Red Kuri Pumpkin With Spinach Salad Cannellini Beans, From Naturally Ella
Why we like it: It’s really no secret that we’re big fans of delicious and satisfying here winter vegetables stuffed with salad. To be sure, I couldn’t name a more perfect presentation for this fresh and flavorful bean salad than the roasted red kuri squash. New to this little pumpkin-like veggie? Know this: zero peeling is required.
Hero Ingredient: The edible red kuri squash dish is a perfect way to add unexpected variety to the pumpkin rotation. You won’t regret being a little adventurous.
We may need a guide for all the different types of pumpkins too! These gray beauties are Jarrahdale pumpkins. I love their muted color palette.
Good autumn cuisine!
This post was originally published on Oct 26, 2017 and has been updated since then.