My favorite thing about winter is probably the produce aisle! Yes, I love the holidays and the decorations that come with it; but I love that this is the best time of year to find a variety of squash and at a great price! While most people have probably cooked with zucchini at one point or another I find it gets boring fast! My three favorites this time of year are; butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash. Get away from your standard veggie side dishes and you may find you have a new favorite! Butternut squash is one of the most common squashes available. They have a sweet orange flesh that is pretty similar to a sweet potato. In fact for those of you on a low carb diet this squash is a great substitute in almost any sweet potato recipe. Another favorite of mine is to slice them into ½ inch slices and sauté with butter and a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg for a unique side dish.
Acorn squash is great during the winter. It is a dark green squash that is incredibly affordable this time of year. While most people wouldn’t think to use a vegetable as a dessert option this makes a delicious and healthy dessert your kids will love. Cut the squash in half length wise and remove the seeds. Place face down on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400F. After you remove top with butter and a mix of cinnamon and sugar. As you scoop it out you will notice it tastes almost like pie filling! Pumpkin seems like a pretty standard squash to use; after all who doesn’t love pumpkin pie? My favorite twist to regular pumpkin pie is to use mini pumpkins. Prepare your favorite pumpkin pie filling but pour into hollowed out mini pumpkins instead of a crust. Bake the pies for 30 minutes at 350F, or until the flesh can be poked with a fork. Not only is this a cute unique way to serve your pie, the baked pumpkin is edible as well!
My personal favorite is the spaghetti squash. I’ve had an ongoing battle against carbs for years and this one helps me curb those cravings. This squash has a noodle like flesh that is a pretty comparable substitute for spaghetti, like its name suggests. Using a fork, poke holes through the outer flesh and bake for an hour at 375F. After it cools a bit carefully cut in half and scoop out the noodles. Serve the strands with your favorite pasta sauce or as a base for a yummy Italian dish like chicken parmesan! Most squash is available year round, but when it’s in season the savings are great! Don’t let this winter go by without experimenting with a variety of squash from your local grocery store. They are a great way to get some extra veggies into your day and work in both sweet and savory recipes. As far as I know they are the only vegetable I can use to trick my kids into vegetables for dessert!