Squash is one of those vegetable categories that spans a whole range of colors, flavors, shapes, textures and growing seasons. From acorn squash to zucchini, this veggie family has it all, including nutrients, fiber and fewer than 75 calories per serving.
Summer varieties (like zucchini and yellow squash) are nutritious, with antioxidants and carotenoids; they’re ideal for sautéing. (Try: 10 New Uses for Zucchini)
Hard-skinned winter squashes (acorn, butternut, pumpkin) are packed with antioxidants and vitamin A and roast beautifully. And spaghetti squash makes a delightfully different (and super low-cal) substitute for pasta.
Basic Roasted SquashCut a butternut squash horizontally just above the bulbous end, then peel. Halve each section lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and dice into chunks. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper; roast at 450 degrees for 20–30 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.
Baked Acorn SquashHalve an acorn squash lengthwise (careful: the skin is hard), then scoop out the seeds. Into the cavities, add a bit of butter, salt, pepper and chopped fresh thyme or rosemary; drizzle olive oil.
Whole Wheat Couscous with Squash and SpinachThis great-for-you recipe from Chef Meg is packed with two servings of veggies per portion. Use whole-wheat Israeli couscous (also called pearl pasta) for interesting texture, or substitute regular fine-grain couscous.
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ CheeseSweet, fully flavored butternut squash gets mashed and stirred into a lower-fat macaroni and cheese casserole. The squash lightens the calories and heft of the dish without sacrificing any flavor. This dish is a must-try for cheese lovers.
Farro Salad with Butternut SquashThis hearty salad would make a great side-dish with grilled pork or roasted chicken. As a main course for lunch (easily made ahead and packed in a lidded container), it features filling whole-grains and vitamin-rich squash to keep you satisfied through the afternoon.
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Squash and Arugula SaladPeel, seed and finely dice a butternut squash; steam just until it begins to soften, then cool. Toss diced squash with baby arugula, your favorite Dijon vinaigrette and a few crumbles of blue cheese.
Roasted Squash SoupWith a zing of orange juice and a topping of orange zest, spicy serrano chili, cilantro and coconut, this dairy-free recipe is a great variation on the classic roasted butternut squash soup.
Try one of these variations:
Stuffed SquashHalve an acorn or butternut squash and remove the seeds; roast at 400 degrees for about an hour, until the squash is soft when pierced with a knife. Season the insides with salt and pepper, then fill with your favorite wild-rice or bread stuffing. Return stuffed squash to the oven to warm the filling for a few minutes. (You can also hollow out a patty-pan squash and stuff, as shown in the main image.)
Stuffed ZucchiniThis easy main-dish recipe pairs halved zucchini with a stuffing of Italian sausage, marinara sauce and bread crumbs.
Pizza with Roasted SquashTop a pizza crust with roasted cubes of butternut squash, zucchini and red onion. Add dollops of low-fat ricotta cheese and freshly grated Parmesan and bake until the crust is brown and cheese is bubbly. Get the recipe.
Photo courtesy of writes4food.com
What is your favorite way to prepare squash? Which varietal is tops, in your opinion?
Bryn Mooth is extending her 20-year career in publishing as an independent journalist and copywriter. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.