Every winter when I was a kid, my mother would bake butternut squash for dinner. It looked yucky — like an alien’s head split down the middle with a pool of butter in place of the brains. Mom said I had to sit at the table until I ate it. Once, I sat there 4 months.
But eventually, after only about a half-century, I came around. My wife, Judy, who in very irritating and unreasonable fashion insists I try something before I declare I hate it, fixed us a baked butternut squash. I looked at it fearfully, chugged a couple of quick Bourbons, and tried it. Glorioski! It tasted good! The next week, she baked an acorn squash. I liked that too. Clearly, my mom was wrong for not making me sit there 5 months.
So Good & So Good For You
The worst thing you can say to a kid when trying to force food down their throat is, “It’s good for you.” That means it tastes awful. But kids don’t read the Grumpy Gardener, because their brains haven’t fully developed. Yours has. Therefore, you will not shrink back in horror when I say that squash is very nutritious. A single serving of butternut squash, for example, contains high amounts of Vitamins A, B, C, E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Why, that’s even more nutritious than beer!
Why Is It Called Winter Squash?
There are two main classes of squash — summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash, like yellow crookneck and zucchini, have thin skins, mature in summer, and don’t store well. Winter squash have thick skins, mature in late summer and fall, and keep a long time if stored in a cool, dry place. You can eat it all winter. It isn’t as easy to grow as summer squash in the Deep South (Zone 8 and below), but it’s cheap to buy. Muy importante.
Types of Winter Squash
Winter squash comes in lots of types. In addition to the acorn and butternut types (shown above) that generally weigh 2 to 5 pounds, you should try the similarly sized spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash gets its name from its nutty-tasting flesh that forms spaghetti-like strands. You can substitute them for pasta. Then there are really big winter squash, like ‘Hubbard’ and ‘Blue Hubbard,’ that tip the scales at 12 to 15 pounds. Wow — if my mom had fixed that, I’d still be sitting at the table.
Cooking winter squash can be as simple as seasoning it with salt, pepper, and a few spices and baking it. But now that I’ve whetted your appetite, I know you want more. Here’s a collection of 16 winter squash recipes from Cooking Light, including “Cheese and Squash Souffle,” “Indian Spiced Roasted Squash Soup,” “Spaghetti Squash With Tomato-Basil Sauce,” and “Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto With Sugared Walnuts.”
Just in time for the holidays. You’re welcome.