Winter squash is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed in soups, pasta, salads, and even desserts. These hard-shelled squash are part of the gourd family and are grown to maturity with thicker, harder skins than the soft-shelled summer squash. The flesh is generally yellow or orange and very nutrient-dense. There are many different shapes, sizes, and colors that are available at the farmers' markets beginning in fall and through the winter.
Acorn: Named after its shape, the acorn squash is one of the most widely visible among small winter squash. It has a good nutty flavor and is great for savory and sweet baked dishes.
Butternut: A meaty squash with golden-orange flesh. Baking enhances the sweet, moist, and nutty flavors. It makes an excellent pasta filling or soup base.
Spaghetti: This oval-shaped squash is also called the vegetable spaghetti. When cooked, the crisp, tender spaghetti-like strands yield a mild, slightly sweet taste. It makes a great low-carb pasta replacement.
Kabocha: A bright orange-fleshed Japanese winter squash with dark green bumpy skin and a wonderful flavor similar to a sweet potato. Cut in half and then quarters, remove seeds, and bake.
Delicata: A very tasty little squash with a thin skin that does not require peeling. It's pale yellow skin has dark green stripes and its yellow flesh tastes somewhat like a sweet potato. Cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and roast drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper.