Squash feels like the ultimate fall food. Probably because of their presence in Thanksgiving imagery, and also because so many types of squash are harvested in the fall. Many grocery stores are full of them right now. Squash are a fruit of the genus Cucurbita, part of the gourd family. Native to Central and South America, they are a rich source of nutrients, used in a myriad of ways for cooking, carving and decorating porches on cold autumn nights.

Pumpkin

To some, pumpkins are the star of the squash clan, prominent throughout much of North America every October for Halloween celebrations and fall fair size competitions. The heaviest have weighed over 2,000 pounds (the Canadian record was recently broken with this 1,877-pounder).

But pumpkins are not just a pretty face. There are so many ways to eat these wholesome fruits to take advantage of their flavor and nutrients, which includes beta-carotene and potassium. Here’s how to make fresh pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin and sage pasta, and don’t forget to save the seeds and make something tasty with them.

Acorn squash

Acorn squash is a winter variety. It tends to be mostly dark green with a bit of orange, with a hard rind that’s tough to peel. But it’s excellent chopped up and roasted. Here are 18 amazing acorn squash recipes from Martha.

Buttercup and kabocha

These are two different types of squash that closely resemble each other. Both tend to be squat and round, orange or green, smoother than the grooved acorn squash. Both can be sweet, and make nice desserts. Here’s a recipe for kabocha squash cake, and another for curry-roasted buttercup squash.

Spaghetti

One of my favourites, spaghetti squash makes a great side dish that’s very easy to make. I slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, poke a bunch of holes in the rind with a sharp knife, and microwave it for several minutes, until the flesh is soft enough for your taste. Then I add a bit of cumin and butter, and scrape the flesh with a fork so it resembles spaghetti noodles. Here’s a more detailed description of the process over at the Kitchn.

Butternut

Another very common variety, at least where I live. Butternut squash has a distinctive bell shape and pale peachy color. It has a sweet taste and roasts and sautés very well. It’s the key ingredient in my favorite soup recipe ever by a mile.

Hubbard

Maybe the coolest looking squash, hubbards tend to be less symmetrical and round than other varieties. They’re also one of the larger types, with colors that include cool gray, blue, orange, green and combinations therein. The skin is very rigid and hard to cut through. The flesh underneath is quite sweet, making it great for roasting or desserts.

It’s fall, time to talk squash. What’s your favorite type? Let us know in the comments!

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