It’s fall, and we think that a winter squash appreciation post is in order. There are very few foods in this world that can be stored for months and are as beautiful and tasty as winter squash. The humidity and unpredictable weather in Middle Tennessee can make it difficult to grow winter squash, but that just makes the harvest so much sweeter.
Winter squash is the ultimate comfort food. Its rich flavor makes fall dishes shine. It is a nourishing vegetable in more ways than one-winter squash contains significant amounts of beta-carotene, Vitamin A, folic acids, and potassium. It is a comfort food that you can feel good about--body and mind.
Another advantage of winter squash? It can be stored for ages. Purchase your squash now, and if you keep it in a cool, dry area, it will keep for several months. It’s perfect for that evening where you don’t have any food in the fridge and you want to skip a trip to the market.
This year, we grew a few different varieties of winter squash, and all are colorful and delicious in their own way. You can learn more about each variety below, and you’ll also learn some new cooking methods from Chef Richard while you’re at it!
The flavor of butternut squash is perfect for fall dishes-it is rich, creamy, slightly sweet, and smooth. It’s also high in vitamins and minerals like magnesium and Vitamin A.
The flavor is versatile enough that you can enjoy it as a dessert dish, like in Roasted Butternut Cupcakes or in an Apple & Butternut Tart Tatin. Butternut squash also has a number of savory applications, like a hearty Turkey & Butternut Bake or our light and fluffy Butternut Soufflé.
Don't feel like turning on the oven? Chef Richard also says “Winter squash is actually pretty great raw. People don’t think of that. But something that is great to do is spiralizing butternut squash, and using it as noodles in a vegan ramen with a mushroom dashi.” Who else is craving a big bowl of ramen now?
Acorn squash has deep green skin and distinct ridges from top to bottom, and is one of the more versatile winter squash varieties to cook with. This variety lacks the intense sweet and nutty flavor of some other winter squash varieties, but is buttery and loaded with soluble fiber, Vitamin B6, and folates.
The mild flavor makes these squash ideal for stuffing--simply slice the squash in half and use it as a vessel for your favorite roasted dish. Get inspired--make your Thanksgiving stuffing remarkable by baking it in a halved acorn squash! Looking for more inspiration? Try our New England Squash Pie with Candied Ginger Merengue. This recipe puts a sweet spin on winter squash.
Delicata squash are easily recognized by their oblong shape and green and yellow striped skin. The skin is thin enough so that when it’s roasted, it’s edible, with a bit of a chew. This squash is rich in dietary fibers and potassium, and is easy to slice and roast.
The creamy and rich flavor of roasted delicata is delightful on its own, and also makes a great salad topper. Our Delicata Slaw takes the oven out of the equation--enjoy the squash and a medley of fruits and vegetables in this light and tangy slaw.
Carnival squash is a hybrid between acorn squash and a delicata squash. These little guys look gorgeous as decor, with fun green and white stripes that run top-to-bottom. In our book, the only thing that makes a display better is when you can eat it.
You won’t regret cutting into your carnival squash. This variety is high in antioxidants and has a nutty flavor with a thin, edible skin. You can easily substitute acorn squash for carnival squash in our Rosemary & Mushroom Acorn Wedges. Chef Richard recommends slicing the squash into about 1” slices, then serving them upright on a platter. The bright yellow and green of the skin will set off the yellow-orange flesh, a presentation that will really wow your guests (or your cat, we don’t judge!).
This versatile squash has seen soaring popularity with the gluten-free and plant-based diet movement. When cooked, the flesh of the squash can be removed in ribbons that look like spaghetti, which gives this squash its name. It is also lower in calories and richer in nutrients than traditional pasta, making it a wonderful and tasty substitute for pasta dishes. Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor, and is slightly sweet. It’s not as nutty or as rich as some of its winter squash counterparts, however, which makes it a versatile substitute for pasta in any traditional pasta dish.
Spaghetti squash doesn’t have to be used as a pasta substitute, however. It shines as a rich, sweet filling to our Hickory Syrup & Spaghetti Squash Gallette--the perfect rustic pie for a fall day. Want to make this dish just a touch more Southern? Replace the hickory syrup with sorghum syrup--the sweetener of the South.
BonBon squash is a medium-sized round squash that is deep green in color with bright orange innards. A variety of buttercup squash, this cultivar has a rich, sweet taste and is high in Vitamin A. Known for its sweet flavor and creamy flesh, this squash can be used in similar applications as pumpkins or sweet potatoes. Save the seeds when prepping--the large BonBon seeds are great for roasting for a little snack later.
Lean into the BonBon squash’s creamy, rich texture with our simple Squash Dumplings. You can also prepare the dumplings ahead of time and freeze them for a quick and easy dinner at a later date.
Blue Hubbard Squash
Looking for a squash that will store for a while? Blue Hubbard squash is the answer. This blue-hued bulbous squash is an heirloom variety, with a thick skin and a sweet and nutty flesh. This squash will keep for months in a cool, dry place due to its hardy skin. When you’re ready to eat it, slice it in half (check out an easy way to slice this squash here), roast it, and scoop out the flesh. Blue Hubbard squash is also exceptionally high in beta-carotene, which has anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.
This squash is delicious in stews and casseroles, or you can try a sweet application with our Hubbard Coffeecake. Looking for more breakfast inspiration? Try shredding some blue hubbard squash into a hearty pancake mix, like our Sunday Morning Squash Pancakes. Don’t be fooled-winter squash doesn’t always need to be roasted on its own. It is delicious shredded into pancakes, muffins, and bread puddings.
Row 7 is a seed company that focuses on flavor first. Created by chef Dan Barber and vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek, Row 7 focuses on taste over transport. The final products offer richer, more concentrated, and more complex flavors than traditional varieties. They are designed with culinary applications in mind, and we are so excited to enjoy the varieties of Row 7 crops that we planted this year.
From Row 7, we are growing Robin’s Koginut Squash, experimental Squash 898, and Cucumber 7082 in the production fields. We also have a trial melon variety, their trial snow pea mix, and the habanada pepper growing in the culinary garden. We’re going to focus on the winter squash for the purposes of this article though.
Robin’s Koginut squash is a hybrid of butternut and kabocha squash. They look like little pumpkins, and have a sweet, nutty, and smooth flesh. They have a thick skin for storing, and a rich flavor when roasted.
The Trial 898 squash is similar to a honeynut squash, but has a tougher skin for greater storability. It also is a great source of beta-carotene.This small squash is about the size of your palm, and will have a super delicious and concentrated sweet flavor.
As the days get shorter and the air cools down here in Nashville, we are thankful for a bountiful summer season, and we’re looking forward to a fall filled with hearty winter squash dishes--sweet, savory, and everything in between.
Here’s a quick tip--If you’re planting squash at home, we recommend the “Three Sisters” method that was created by Indigenous Americans. This method plants squash, corn, and beans in the same plot. The beans act as a nitrogen fixer in the soil, crucial for the corn’s growth. The beans trellis on the corn, and the squash plants provide shade cover, which helps with water retention.