I think squash is pretty underrated.
It may have something to do with the weird and wonderful shapes they come in, I suppose they do look a little odd. But, I think they deserve more attention.
If you haven’t tried squash, it has a really great taste, and it’s actually very versatile and easy to use.
So, is it a vegetable or a fruit? Most people would say squash is a vegetable, after all they are found in the vegetable section at the grocery store, right?
However, because they contain the seeds, they are actually a fruit. And, like tomato, they can be used as a vegetable when cooking.
Summer squash is less mature, and smaller in size, with thin, edible skins and soft seeds. They include:
Crookneck — yellow skin (sometimes green), with white flesh.
Straightneck — yellow/orange skin, with white flesh.
Zucchini — smooth green or yellow skin, with white flesh.
Pattypan — small in size, with pale green or yellow skin, and creamy white flesh.
Other varieties of summer squashes include:
- Cousa squash
- Yellow summer squash
Summer squash nutrients
Summer squash is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C. It is also a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, dietary fibre, potassium, copper, folate, and phosphorus, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, calcium, zinc, niacin, and protein.
How to cook summer squash
Summer squash have a pretty high water content, which means dry-heat methods of cooking are best — think stir-frying, grilling or sautéing.
Winter squash are larger, and have hard, thick skins and seeds. They also tend to keep for longer. They include:
Acorn — green skin, speckled with orange patches, the flesh is orange.
Turban — green or red skin, speckled or striped, with orange flesh.
Pumpkin — orange skin, with orange flesh.
Hubbard — dark green, grey or orange in colour, with orange flesh.
Other varieties of winter squash include:
- Acorn squash
- Amber squash
- Ambercup squash
- Arikara squash
- Atlantic Giant
- Autumn cup squash
- Banana squash
- Buttercup squash
- Butternut squash
- Carnival squash
- Cushaw (also called “winter crookneck squash”)
- Delicata squash
- Gem squash
- Georgia candy roaster
- Gold nugget squash (also called “golden nugget squash”)
- Heart of gold squash
- Hubbard squash
- Jarrahdale pumpkin
- Lakota squash
- Long Island cheese squash
- Marina di Chioggia
- Mooregold squash
- Queensland blue pumpkin
- Red kuri squash
- Rouge vif d’Estampes
- Spaghetti squash
- Sugar loaf squash
- Sweet dumpling squash
- Turban squash
Wow, that’s a lot of squash!
Winter squash nutrients
Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre, manganese, and a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper.
How to cook winter squash
The flesh of winter squash is much harder, and so needs a bit longer to cook. Unlike the skin of summer squash, the skin of winter squash isn’t edible, so you’ll need to peal it.
Personally, I think the best way to cook winter squash is to roast, but steamed or boiled can work very well too.
Squash Recipe Ideas
Okay, so now you know what to look for at the grocery store, what are you supposed to do with this fab vegetable?
Here are a few ideas for adding squash to your menu plan:
- Grate zucchini over the top of salads, pasta dishes or sandwiches.
- Serve raw crudities of summer squash with your favorite dip, such as hummus or avocado dip.
- Grate, or chop finely, then add to your favorite muffin recipe — you’ll need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by around 1/3.
- Cook winter squash, then purée, and add a little spice with a dash of cinnamon.
- Steam cubes of winter squash, and serve with an olive oil and ginger dressing.
- Add cubes of winter squash to your favorite vegetable soup, curry, stir-fry, stew recipe.
- Cook a few different varieties of squash together for a delicious, colorful side dish.
- Experiment with seasoning — dill, lemon juice, chili powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic.
- Marinate and grill for a completely different taste.
- Substitute grated summer squash in place of carrots in a carrot cake recipe.
Spiced Glazed Squash
Serves 8 (as side dish)
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
1kg butternut squash, or pumpkin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
½ tbsp caster sugar
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Halve the squash, scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Cut into slices about 2cm thick at the thickest part. (If you are using a long butternut squash, you can halve it horizontally as well as lengthways before cutting the wedges, otherwise you will have very long slices.)
- Put the butter in a small saucepan and heat gently. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, the cinnamon and ginger. Put the wedges of squash into a roasting tin and pour the spicy mixture over them, using your hands to make sure the squash gets well-coated. Season and sprinkle with the sugar.
- Roast for 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized. While the squash is cooking, baste every so often with the spice mixture. Arrange on a serving dish, and squeeze the lemon over.
If you have a fab recipe for squash, or you simply want to discuss how wonderful this vegetable is, please share it in the comments below…