Good Gosh, Even More Squash!

In “Good Gourd, That’s Delicious!” in the September 2015 issue of School Nutrition, writer Karly Kolaja provided a primer on all sorts of winter squashes available for foodservice uses. While a few varieties of winter squash are sold in stores, there are others that are harder to come by. More commonly found at farmers markets or farm stands, these squashes may be less well known than their supermarket-friendly cousins, but they’re definitely just as worthy of your time.

Buttercup Squash

Not to be confused with butternut squash, buttercups are compact and round gourds featuring a dark green rind crossed by greenish-gray lines and a circular ridge on the bottom. When kept in a cool dry place, buttercups will keep for up to three months.

Although buttercups can be roasted, the yellow-orange flesh of a buttercup tends to dry out when cooked, so they’re best steamed or baked. Its mild flavor makes it excellent in soups, and its firm texture makes it a great choice for a vegetarian curry. Fun fact: A freshly cut, raw buttercup squash can sometimes smell like a cucumber! 

Delicata Squash

Long and cylindrical with pale yellow skin, the delicata squash most closely resembles a spaghetti squash but is smaller and has green stripes. Its orange-yellow flesh is creamy and mild, with a taste and consistency so similar to (thougha bit earthier than) sweet potatoes that delicatas are sometimes known as sweet potato squashes.

Because a delicata’s skin is edible, it’s not necessary to cut it off before preparing. Cut one in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it as is, or cut into slices and sauté, steam or roast. Delicatas are also great for stuffing.

Kabocha Squash

Ranging between 2 and 3 pounds (although sometimes found up to 8!) kabocha squash have moderately lumpy, hard rinds and are shaped like stubby pumpkins. They look somewhat like buttercups, but their base points out, not in. The flesh of a green kabocha is relatively savory, while its red cousin is decidedly sweet. Both varieties are nutty and earthy and have a texture that ranges between that of a sweet potato and a pumpkin. 

Extremely versatile, kabocha squash can be substituted for almost any other winter squash. They hold up well to steaming and roasting and can be used as a pie filling or puréed into soups. Kabochas are very high in dietary fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Sweet dumplings are small, compact and, well, undeniably cute. Their smooth, whitish-yellow skin has orange and green stripes and is edible, as well, which makes them perfect for individual servings.

With a taste similar to corn or a sweet potato (you can substitute sweet dumplings in recipes that call for sweet potatoes), their starchy flesh holds up well to roasting. And, if you want to make a single-serving, all-inclusive meal for yourself, try stuffing one with rice, ground meat and vegetables. When kept in a cool, dry area away from sunlight, sweet dumplings can be kept for up to three months.

 

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