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Types of holiday squash and how to use them

At this time of year, you’re likely to walk into the grocery store and see a whole section of colourful, oddly shaped items in the produce section. These quirky and vibrant selections are different types of squash. They may look intimidating at first, but they are incredibly nutritious and yummy once you get past their confusing appearances.

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash

Have you ever wondered how spaghetti squash got its name? It’s quite simple, really. When this oval-shaped, yellow fruit is cooked, it can be scraped into skinny strands that are similar to spaghetti in appearance. To take advantage of what spaghetti squash has to offer, begin by cutting the squash in half and scooping out the seeds. Place cut sides down on a baking tray, and bake them in the oven at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the centres become tender. When the squash is done cooking, scrape the insides with a fork. You can flavour the strands with either butter or oil and salt, or you can mix in your favourite pasta sauce, such as pesto or marinara. This method makes a great side, but you can also mix in other vegetables, tofu, cheese or meat for a heartier dish.

Butternut squash

The name says a lot about what you can expect when you purchase this peach-colour squash. Once cooked, the orange insides become deliciously buttery with a hint of nuttiness. The subtle sweetness of the fruit goes wonderfully in a variety of dishes. To get things started and to figure out if the taste and texture are to your liking, create this creamy butternut squash soup. From there, move on to a meal that’s sure to impress your family or guests, such as this stuffed butternut squash. Or if you’re ready to take your culinary skills to the next level and make pasta by hand, check out this butternut squash ravioli with browned butter sage sauce.

acorn squashAcorn squash

This round squash is green on the outside and dark yellow on the inside. For a super-easy side, bake slices of it in maple syrup to make delicious candied acorn squash. Because of their small, round shapes, acorn squashes are particularly useful for entertaining. They can be carved out and stuffed to create individual, self-contained dishes such as this apple-and-couscous-stuffed acorn squash. Your guests are sure to be impressed!

So many more!

Now that you have an understanding of what you can do with some of the more common squash varieties, you can start to get creative. Hubbard, delicata, calabaza and any other squash varieties you find at your grocery store can all be cooked in similar ways. When you want to make something simple, roast the squash, and mash or scrape it into an easy side dish or blend it into a soup. Or for something a little fancier, stuff it with grains, vegetables and your favourite protein source, and bake it in the oven. The next time you go to the grocery store, take some time to look at the squashes, and pick up a new variety to play around with!

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