Winter squash is a broad category of vegetables that contains many distinct varieties, flavors and textures. As a general rule, they are hard-skinned, harvested in the early fall, and great for storage.
Winter squash is a member of the cucurbit family (which also includes cucumbers, zucchini, and melons) and can be broken into three main categories: cucurbita maxima (this includes hubbards, buttercup, and kuri types as well as a diversity of others); cucurbita pepos (which includes acorn, pumpkins, delicata, spaghetti, all summer squash and similar types), and cucurbita moschata (that includes butternut, and Long Island cheese pumpkins).
At our farm, we focus on just a few of these varieties. We grow abundant spaghetti squash, Carnival acorn squash, and butternut squash, and occasionally feature kuri squash and delicata squash depending on the season.
We start having spaghetti squash at the end of August with others arriving in September and lasting until October. CSA members will enjoy winter squash 3-4 times in the summer shares, and almost weekly in the fall shares.
Varieties we grow and how to store them
As we said above, at our farm we grow a lot of a few specific varieties of winter squash. Here’s more information about each along with our tips for how to store them.
- Butternut Squash (top left): Tan-skinned and smooth, butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flesh that is incredibly versatile. We cure the squash before selling it or giving it to CSA members, which helps it keep for up to six months! Store in a cool, dry place (your basement is perfect) for optimal storage. Your counter will work just fine if you plan to use them within 1-2 months. Butternut squash is also a great candidate for longer-term storage in the freezer, see tips for that below.
- Carnival Acorn Squash (top right): This tasty squash is a cross between an acorn squash and delicata squash. The small, round carnival has striped and speckled skin, and a sweet, light-orange flesh. This squash is also cured before it leaves the farm, but it is still a much more perishable squash than butternut. You should keep it in a cold location (like your basement) to help the flesh from getting stringy and eat within a few weeks.
- Delicata Squash (middle left): Delicata is a beautiful yellow- and green-striped cylindrical squash with a pale flesh and similar sweet, tender flavor to butternut (though it is a bit more starchy in texture). Customers love it because of its thin, edible skin that doesn’t need to be removed before cooking. However, that thin skin means this squash is more perishable and only keeps for a few weeks. Similar to carnival, store this in your basement for the longest-lasting storage. You will likely get a couple months in a cool, dry basement.
- Kuri Squash (middle right): Kuri squash is a member of the hubbard squash family which comes in a wide range of colors and sizes. We are partial to kuri for its small size, orange starchy flesh, and distinctive chestnutty, sweet flavor. The skin is technically edible, but because of its thickness, we frequently peel or remove it. That thick skin does help it store well though! Kuri squash easily stores for 6+ months in optimal conditions (yes, like your basement).
- Spaghetti Squash (bottom): Of all the winter squash we grow, spaghetti squash is the most unique. While most other winter squashes are prized for their delicate, tender, and sweet flavor, spaghetti squash has a much more mild flavor and is eaten in one main way. Typically, it is roasted and then the flesh is pulled into translucent strands with a fork before being served with some sort of flavorful sauce. This fresh eating squash is the first to be harvested in late summer, has a thin skin and is not cured, which means it needs to be eaten much faster than other winter squash varieties. It usually only keeps for 2-4 weeks.
Interested in learning more about the other varieties of squash we don’t grow that are available at local stores and markets? Check out this great shopping guide from Serious Eats, or this visual guide from Epicurious.
Long-term storage (aka freezing!)
Winter squash is wonderful for the fact that it stores well in your basement for weeks to months without much work. However, some people are limited on cool, dry storage space or want to prep things in a way that makes them both less perishable and more easy to use in the moment.
If you are looking to store winter squash for the long-term, there is really only one method we recommend, and that is to freeze it! Technically, any winter squash can be frozen. We love to freeze butternut because it’s the easiest to work with. It’s relatively easy to peel and each squash yields a substantial quantity. Peeled and cubed butternut squash can go straight into the freezer without blanching, or you can cook it and puree it, freezing 2-cup portions for later use in soups, breads, muffins, baby food, or pie filling.
The same method works for carnival acorn squash and kuri squash. If you don’t want to peel it, we’d recommend halving the squashes, removing the seeds and roasting it until tender, then scooping out the tender roasted squash and freezing it that way (again for soups, breads, muffins, baby food, or pie filling). For delicata, since you can eat the skin, all you need to do is halve, remove the seeds, and cut into chunks or half moons. These pieces can go straight into a freezer bag and be thawed or used frozen in cooking.
Spaghetti squash takes the most work to freeze, but long-term storage can be useful since it has such a short shelf life compared to other squash. To freeze, roast as usual and then use a fork to separate the strands. Place cooked, separated strands in a colander and leave overnight to drain. In the morning, pack into freezer bags. It will keep well this way for up to 6 months.
Creative ways to use winter squash
The possibilities with winter squash are literally endless, so in addition to the few favorite recipes we included in the next section, we’ve got dozens more ideas (and links!) here to inspire you and keeping you eating squash all fall and winter long:
- Stuffed squash has long been a fan favorite, and we find both acorn squash and delicata squash wonderful for roasting.
- As a veggie farmer, salad may be an obvious choice, but we love pairing sweet squash with greens and other fun toppings (like here with the Butternut Squash, Kale & Apple Salad, here with Ina Garten’s Butternut Squash Salad, or here with the Kale & Roasted Red Kuri Salad)
- Panzanella is similar to a salad, it just adds a little bit of bread in the form of dried croutons for an even heartier dish, and pairs beautifully here with butternut, lentils, and greens.
- Cubed squash is a tasty addition to both a simple weeknight pasta dish, or a more cheesy pasta bake.
- Both butternut and delicata squash makes a great pizza topping, and pureed squash of any variety makes a wonderful sauce for pizza.
- Curries and stews are also a wonderful choice with endless possibilities.
- Squash adds a perfect touch of sweetness to your favorite winter chili.
- Squash toasts can make a fun and simple weeknight meal.
- We love adding squash to rice or other grain bowls (like here with the Sweet and Spicy Red Kuri Squash Bowl or here with Quinoa Power Bowls with Maple Chipotle Brussels and Smoky Butternut Squash).
- Or you can go even simpler and roast squash with some tofu and ginger, and pair that with some rice.
- Baking with squash is also fun: like with these muffins, these biscuits, or a good old fashioned butternut squash pie (instead of using pumpkin).
- Butternut squash in particular makes a gorgeous galette or tart, perfect for dinner with a simple salad.
- It also makes a very pretty holiday side dish when cut using the “hasselback” technique.
- Acorn squash is a fun quesadilla filling.
- And finally, think outside the box by incorporating winter squash into your breakfasts! It makes a great stir in for oatmeal or porridge, as well as a fun addition to pancakes and waffles.
Classic winter squash recipes
Roasted Delicata or Acorn Squash
Recipe by: Serious Eats
There is nothing groundbreaking about roasted winter squash, but it’s great to have a good recipe on hand because this is as simple and easy (and delicious) as it can get. We love halving delicata squash, removing the seeds and cutting them into half-moons, and quickly roasting with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper (or even a touch of maple syrup and red pepper flakes). The same technique works well with acorn squash, just cut it into wedges instead of half moons.
And if you want to turn it into a more elaborate dish (like pictured above right), check out this great recipe from 101 Cookbooks.
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 45 minutes
2 medium delicata squash, washed and dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Trim both ends of each delicata squash. Stand one squash up on the larger cut side and, using a chef’s knife, slice it lengthwise, down through the center of the squash, creating two even halves. Use a soup spoon to scrape out and discard seeds and any fibrous flesh. Repeat with second squash.
- Place all 4 squash halves cut-side down on a large cutting board. Cut each squash half crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Transfer slices to large bowl. Add melted butter, salt, and pepper, and toss to evenly coat squash slices.
- Transfer squash slices to a rimmed baking sheet, arranging them around the perimeter of the sheet with an even amount of space between each slice. Roast until squash slices are golden brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes. Use tongs to flip each slice. Rotate baking sheet, return it to oven, and continue to roast until second side is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, transfer squash slices to a platter, and serve.
Red Kuri Squash with Pistachios, Brown Butter, and Lime
Recipe by: From Market to Table
Kuri squash is also excellent roasted, but because the flesh is a bit dryer, we recommend amping up the oil or butter just a bit and also serving it with a more robust sauce then you need to with delicata or acorn squash, like is done here.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 50 minutes
1 Red Kuri squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup raw pistachios, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 1 lime
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the Red Kuri squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Discard the seeds and pulp and save 1/2 of the squash for another use. Place 1/2 of the squash cut side down on a cutting board, and slice the squash into 1 1/2-inch wedges. You should have about 6 large wedges.
- Arrange the wedges flat on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until underside is deeply browned, about 20–25 minutes. Turn the wedges over to roast until the other side is deeply browned and the squash wedges are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a 10-12-inch skillet over medium heat, and add the butter. Cook, stirring continuously, until the butter foams, stops sizzling, and turns a dark amber brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the pistachios, red pepper flakes, salt, and lime juice. Season to taste and set aside.
- Spread the yogurt onto the bottom of a medium serving platter or plate. Arrange the squash nestled to each other on the yogurt and spoon the sauce over the squash wedges and yogurt. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and more red pepper flakes, if desired.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onions
Recipe by: NYTimes Cooking
Yield: 10-12 servings
Time: 1 hour
About 1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for pans
4 large red onions
Coarse salt and black pepper
4 pounds butternut squash cut into 1/2-inch wedges, peeled or unpeeled
⅓ cup pine nuts or shelled green pistachio nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, cilantro or a combination, for garnish
¼ cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
- Heat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.
- Peel onions, leaving root ends intact. Cut each onion in half from stem to root. Cut each half into 4 wedges, leaving the root intact so that each wedge holds together. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.
- Put the squash in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet, peel side down (if intact).
- Place both pans in oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions, as they may cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier.
- If using nuts, pour 1 tablespoon oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add nuts and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown and smell toasty. Immediately remove from the heat and dump onto a cutting board to stop the cooking. If using pistachios, chop coarsely when cool enough to handle.
- To make tahini sauce, place tahini in a bowl. Add lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or a tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.
- When the vegetables are cooked, set aside until ready to serve. (The vegetables should be served the same day they are made. They can be served at warm room temperature, or reheated just before serving.)
- To serve, combine vegetables on a large serving platter. If using tahini sauce, drizzle on top. Sprinkle herbs and, if using, nuts on top and serve.
4 Cheese Roasted Garlic Alfredo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Recipe by: Half Baked Harvest
If stuffed spaghetti squash is your thing, then you absolutely have to check out Half Baked Harvest because she has several different types of stuffed spaghetti squash (like this one with pesto, this one with Spanakopita flavors, this one that riffs on alla vodka pasta, and this one that includes garlic butter and chicken meatballs)!
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 1 hour
1 1/4 cups whole milk or heavy cream
6 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or creamy gouda
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
2 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, spinach, sage, thyme, fontina, and mozzarella. Season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Place the squash in a baking dish and season the cut sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 of the provolone cheese into the bottom of each squash, then evenly divide the milk/cheese mix among the squash cavities. Top with the remaining provolone and parmesan. Cover the squash with foil.
- Slice off the top portion of the garlic head to expose some of the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap it up.
- Bake the squash and garlic for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from both and continue baking the squash and garlic another 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender and the cheese is golden brown on top.
- Let the garlic cool, then squeeze the cloves out into a bowl. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon sage. Mash the cloves into the butter with a fork. Spread the butter over the squash, then use a fork to scrape the squash into strands, mixing the cheese with the squash. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe by: Gimme Some Oven
Yield: 6-8 servings
Time: 50 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion (or 1 leek, or 1 bunch of scallions), diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
1 medium (about 3–4 lb) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or any other “nut milk”/regular milk)
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion (or leek or scallions) and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 more minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Add the vegetable broth, carrot, apple, butternut squash, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are all tender and mash easily with a fork. Stir in the coconut milk.
- Use a stick/immersion to purée the soup until smooth.*
- Taste and season the soup generously with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm, topped with your desired garnishes, and enjoy!
* If you are puréeing using a traditional blender, wait until the soup has cooled for 5-10 minutes and then purée the soup in two or three batches so that the blender is not too full. Be sure to tent the cap of the blender lid so that steam can escape.
Cheesy Winter Squash Gratin
Recipe by: Bon Appetit
Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 1 hour,15 minutes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for pan
3½ pounds delicata and/or acorn squash, halved, seeds removed, cut crosswise ¼” thick
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 ounces frozen kale, spinach or blanched greens, thawed, squeezed well
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, plus sprigs
2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, divided
6 ounces sliced rye or country-style bread, torn into ½” pieces (about 3 cups)
- Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Butter a 13×9″ baking dish and arrange squash in dish. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium. Add onion, garlic, and ½ tsp. salt and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened and starting to turn golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Stir in kale, red pepper flakes, and 1 Tbsp. thyme and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Using tongs, scatter onion mixture over squash, making sure to get it into all the crevices.
- Combine cream, three quarters of Parmesan, and 1½ tsp. kosher salt in skillet (no need to wipe out) and cook, stirring, until hot but not simmering, about 3 minutes. Carefully pour over squash, using tongs to turn squash to coat evenly. Cover tightly with foil, transfer to lower rack of oven, and bake until squash is just shy of tender, 25–30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until cream is thickened and no longer liquid-y and squash is very tender, 18–22 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wipe out skillet and melt remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in skillet over medium heat. Add bread and remaining ¼ tsp. salt; toss to coat. Transfer to top rack in oven and bake, stirring once or twice, until golden brown and crisp, 14–16 minutes. Let cool.
- Heat broiler. Scatter breadcrumbs over gratin, crushing into smaller pieces as you go, then top with remaining Parmesan. Transfer gratin to top rack and broil until bubbling and browned at the edges, about 3 minutes. Top with a few thyme sprigs to serve.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Recipe by: Cookie & Kate
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1 medium to large butternut squash (1.5 pounds or larger), halved
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 pound short-cut pasta (pipe regate, macaroni noodles, casarecce, cavatelli, fusilli)
5 cups water
1 teaspoon fine salt, to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- To roast the squash: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Scoop out the squash seeds with a spoon (we won’t need them for this recipe). Rub the olive oil over the cut sides of butternut, then place them on the prepared pan, flat sides down.
- Bake until the squash flesh is easily pierced through with a fork, about 40 to 60 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard it. Use a potato masher to mash up the squash—don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth. You’ll need about 2 cups mashed squash for this recipe (you’ll likely have plenty extra, which you can freeze for future mac and cheese). Set aside, refrigerate and/or freeze the squash until ready to use.
- To prepare the mac and cheese: Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion powder and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until the butter is fragrant and you see little brown flecks forming in the pan. Add the dry pasta and gently toss to coat it in butter.
- Pour in the water and salt. Add 2 cups of the mashed butternut squash. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove the lid and set the timer for 8 minutes.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the timer goes off. Do not drain the water. Stir in the cream cheese. Cook until the cream cheese has melted and the pasta is al dente (careful when you taste, it’s quite hot), about 4 to 5 more minutes. Turn down the heat as necessary to avoid scorching but maintain a steady simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheddar and Parmesan, and stir until the mixture is melted and creamy. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Season with salt, to taste (I usually add ¼ teaspoon more). Serve the pasta in bowls with extra Parmesan grated on top, if desired. Leftovers keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.