With winter on the way, it's time to bust out the potholders and crank up the oven. Squash is plentiful at this time of year and makes for some satisfying seasonal side dishes. Here we've rounded up four of our favorite winter squash — just be sure to scoop out the seeds before cooking!
Namesake shape and dark green and orange coloring
No orange juice around? Grab an acorn squash instead. Acorn squash is a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that requires constant replenishing in the human body and does everything from healing wounds to maintaining dental health. Acorn squash also contains respectable amounts of dietary fiber, potassium and thiamin.
The squash should be mostly dark green — a few orange spots are fine — and heavy for its size. Avoid ones with soft spots.
Halve an acorn squash and place it cut-side-down in a casserole dish in about 1 inch of water. Roast the squash halves at 400°F for about 50 minutes or until tender — turn over halfway through cooking and brush with a dash of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Buttery color, elongated shape and hefty weight
Slightly higher in calories than some of its fellow squash, butternut squash rules the roost when it comes to vitamin A. One cup of the stuff contains a whopping 457% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, which is essential for skin, teeth and eye health.
Butternut squash should have a smooth, thick skin with no bruises, cuts or soft spots. It should be heavy for its size.
Halve a butternut squash and roast in the oven at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until tender. Scoop flesh into a bowl and combine with a small can of drained, crushed pineapple. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste; if necessary, reheat in the oven before serving.
Oval shape and unmistakably yellow color
So named because of its tendency to separate into spaghetti-like strands when cooked, spaghetti squash is very low in calories. It lacks the nutritional punch of some other squash but is a reliable source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin B6.
The yellower the spaghetti squash, the riper it is. You'll want one that's heavy for its size and free of any soft spots, bruises or cuts.
Halve the squash, brush with olive oil and roast with cut sides up at 400°F for about 50 minutes. When squash is tender, scoop the spaghetti strands out of the skin and toss with pasta sauce for a low-carb meal.
Long, narrow shape and dark green pinstripe
With a super creamy texture that is often compared to butternut squash, delicata squash is exceptionally low in calories. It's got loads of vitamin A, plus some vitamin C, calcium and iron. Its naturally sweet flavor and edible skin make cooking delicata squash a breeze.
Choose one that has a thick, deep-colored skin with no bruises or soft spots. It should be heavy for its size.
Halve a delicata squash and cut into pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast at 400°F for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until squash is tender. Serve immediately.