When we talk about winter squash we are distinguishing it from summer squash: zucchini and yellow summer squash. Think butternut, buttercup, Kabocha, delicata, acorn and others. Winter squash — which is harvested in the fall — has a firmer, harder peel and keeps longer.
When shopping for winter squash, choose varieties that have some weight to them when you pick them up. The stem should be intact and the squash should be bruise-free. The squash should be stored in a cool, dry, dark spot and should last around 3 to 6 months.
Winter squash varieties can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and, for the most part, are thoroughly interchangeable. You can use them in pies and muffins the way you would use pumpkin, or in soups, stews, rice dishes, noodles, salads and more.
Winter squash is naturally low in calories and fat and has many health benefits. It’s a good source of Vitamin C, A and E and offers beta carotene, fiber, potassium and magnesium.
The following recipes use winter squash varieties in three very distinct dishes. The first is a Japanese-style vegetarian ramen soup. Vegetable stock is simmered with miso paste, ginger, scallions and sesame oil and slices of roasted winter squash and carrots are added to the stock. The vegetable broth is topped with ramen noodles and, if you like, a soft-boiled egg and miso-flavored sautéed corn. The ramen is simultaneously light and filling, comforting without being heavy.
The second dish is a French-style galette made with an herb-infused pastry, roasted winter squash slices, red onions, and cheese. It’s an ideal dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
And finally, a refreshing autumn salad made with farro, roasted squash, creamy goat cheese and crunchy almonds tossed in a lemony herb-filled vinaigrette. The salad can also be served as a main course or side dish.
Butternut squash miso ramen
This vegetarian ramen is a main-course meal full of gorgeous fall colors and rich flavors. Vegetable stock, roasted winter squash, ginger, scallions and miso form the flavor base of this satisfying broth. If you have fresh or frozen corn around, be sure to top the soup with the sautéed miso flavored corn; it adds a great depth of flavor. This recipe serves 2 hearty main course portions but can easily be doubled to serve more.
- 1 pound butternut squash or favorite winter squash, peeled, deseeded and fibers removed and then cut into ½ to 1-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon yellow or white miso paste*
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, cut into very thin sticks
- 3 scallions, white and green sections, thinly chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon or more of hot pepper sauce, chili paste, or chili crisp (a spicy condiment of fried chili peppers infused in oil)
- 2 tablespoons yellow or white miso paste, plus 1 teaspoon*
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 4 ounces carrots, about 1 medium-large or 3 small, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
- 6 ounces ramen or udon noodles, cooked for about 4 to 6 minutes in salted boiling water, depending on the type of noodle, follow the package direction
- 2 eggs, optional
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (if using fresh you will get one cup from one large ear corn)
*You want to use a fairly mild miso paste. Click here for more information about miso.
- Prepare the squash: preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix the oil and miso in a bowl, working to combine them into a paste. Add the squash, salt and pepper and mix to coat the squash slices. Arrange the squash on a baking sheet or half-sheet pan in a single layer and roast on the middle shelf for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the ramen: heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger (both the chopped and the thin slices), 2 of the scallions and the chili paste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of miso paste and cook for 1 minute. Raise the heat to high and add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and add 1 ½ tablespoon of the soy sauce and the carrots. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the roasted squash and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the stock is flavorful. Add the additional soy sauce if needed.
- Meanwhile, cook the eggs, if using: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop the eggs into the hot water, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the egg. Carefully drain under cold running water. Crack and peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. The yolk should be runny.
- Make the noodles: bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook for about 4 minutes (according to directions) or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
- Make the miso corn: in a small skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of miso paste and stir. Add the corn, stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the corn is well coated in the miso.
- To serve: divide the broth into two large bowls. Add some of the noodles in the center, top with one egg, and sprinkle the top with the miso corn and the remaining scallions. Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a first course.
Winter squash galette with red onions in herb pastry
The pastry for this galette is extremely simple to put together and can be made ahead of time. You can make it in a bowl with your hands or rely on a food processor. The pastry is rolled out into a 14-inch circle and layered with roasted winter squash and red onion slices and then topped with grated cheese and herbs.
Serves 4 to 8.
The herb pastry:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- About ⅓ cup ice cold water
The squash filling:
- 1 pound squash, like butternut, buttercup, acorn, peeled, deseeded, fiber removed and cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 ½ teaspoon fresh chopped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ packed cup grated gruyere, sharp cheddar or favorite hard cheese
- 1 small whisked egg, optional
- Sage leaves for garnish
- Make the pastry: in a food processor blend the flour, salt, rosemary and sage. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times or until the butter resembles coarse cornmeal. Add only enough water until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and comes together. Alternatively, to make by hand: mix the flour, salt, rosemary and sage in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dough until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add only enough water so that the dough just comes together into one ball. Wrap the dough into a ball and wrap in parchment and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Prepare filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the squash and onion in one layer on a baking sheet or cookie tray with edges. Toss gently with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on the middle shelf for 20 minutes, or until the squash is just tender when tested with a small sharp knife; remove and cool.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 10 minutes. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to a 14-inch circle. Place the circle onto a cookie or baking tray lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle the bottom of the pastry with the parmesan cheese. Layer squash and onions in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 1 ½ inch border around the outside edges. Sprinkle the rosemary and sage on top and any oil from the baking pan. Top with the grated gruyere. Fold the dough in over the squash, leaving the squash and onions at the center exposed and pleating the dough as you work around the galette.
- Bake on the middle shelf for about 20 minutes. Lightly brush the crust with the beaten egg if you like and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through and bubbling. Garnish with the whole sage leaves.
Herbed farro salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and almonds
Farro is a nutrient-rich, chewy whole grain that pairs really well with winter squash, creamy goat cheese, fresh herbs and nuts lightly tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.
- 1 pound butternut or favorite winter squash, peeled, deseeded and fibers removed, and then cut into ½-inch size cubes
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary*
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup farro
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary*
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage*
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ cup crumbled soft goat cheese or feta
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon that you zested above
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup marcona almonds, almonds, pistachios or your favorite nut**
*Although you can use dried herbs (use 1 teaspoon dried for each tablespoon of fresh herb called for) the salad really benefits from fresh herbs.
*Toast the nuts on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Cool and chop.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash on a cookie sheet and toss with the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. The squash should just be tender when tested with a small, sharp knife.
- Meanwhile, place 4 cups of salted water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the farro. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until al dente; the farro should still have a “bite” and not be soft. Drain and place in a serving bowl. When warm, toss with the herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well and let cool for a few minutes. Add the roasted squash, cheese, and nuts and season to taste.
- Serve at room temperature.
Click here for a primer on types of winter squash and recipes for risotto, salad and soup.
This segment aired on October 25, 2022.