Pumpkins and Squashes 101!

Pumpkins and squashes are now in season, but there are just so many varieties out there. How can one decipher the differences between them and how to cook each one?

Here is a fun guide with lots of recipes for my 4 favorite varieties: Buttercup Squash, Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash and Spaghetti Squash - and don't throw out those pumpkin seeds because we have some great recipes for those too!


So let's get started!


1. Buttercup Squash:



I have to say of all the squashes out there, buttercup squash is my all time favorite! It has such a nice creamy texture with a really sweet nutty flavor. It is also super versatile as it can be used in soups, cut up and roasted or even used in sweets.


Here are some great recipe ideas for this squash



:


For a main meal to impress your guests, try my Chickpea, Tofu and Spinach Stuffed Buttercup Squash.

A really flavorful soup using this squash is my Coconut and Ginger Buttercup Squash Soup.

A side dish that will make everyone ask for seconds - Maple Ginger Buttercup Squash.

For a yummy cheesy Mexican treat try adding this squash to enchiladas in my Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas.

Let's not forget about dessert! Here is a gorgeous Buttercup Squash Cake from Self Proclaimed Foodie!


2. Butternut Squash:



Butternut squash is probably the most commonly used squash today. It has a flavor similar to that of the buttercup, but slightly less sweet. It is however equally as versatile!


Here are some great recipes to use butternut squash in:





Learn a great simple yet scrumptious way to roast veggies with my Caramelized Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts.

Veggie Success offers a nice take on a squash and lentil soup.

The oh so comforting Butternut Squash Gratin is brought to you by Fleur de Lolly.

Finally, Farm Fresh Feasts brings us two unique recipes for this beautiful veggie! Butternut Squash Waffles and Butternut Squash Hummus.


3. Acorn Squash




Acorn squash is named after its acorn like shape. This squash has a very mild flavor and the texture is less smooth than the butternut or buttercup varieties. This squash can be baked or roasted, but I do not like to use it in soups since the texture is slightly fibrous.

Here are some great recipes to use acorn squash in:





If you are looking for a full meal to entertain guests with try my Moroccan Style Veggies with Couscous, where I actually use a combination of Buttercup and Acorn Squashes.

You can also try a fun twist on a Mexican dinner with my Black Bean and Acorn Squash Burritos.

A really nice upscale side dish - Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf comes from Carolyn's Homework.

And finally Ann's Entitled Life offers a great guide on how to cut these tough squashes as well as a deliciously simple way of baking this squash with butter and brown sugar.


4. Spaghetti Squash




Spaghetti squash is by far the most fun squash of all! The first time you see one, you just can't believe your eyes ... once cooked the inner fibers actually unravel into long noodle like strands - just by scraping with a fork! This is a great one to use if you are looking to replace your favorite pasta dishes with a much healthier and lighter option!


Here are a few nice recipes to get you started using this fun squash:



For a really nice light dish I paired the Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes.

If you are looking for more decadent meals (hey why not - you are saving calories on the pasta, right?) I have a nice cheesy Spaghetti Squash Lasagna.

and the Snappy Gourmet has a deliciously creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash.


5. The Seeds

Any pumpkin or squash that you open will be full of seeds and most recipes require you to remove them before cooking the squash. So what to do with those seeds? Do NOT throw them away! They make amazing snacks! Simply wash them off really well and allow to dry and roast - delicious!

Here are a few recipes to give you some new ideas for these crunchy seeds:



Elemenop Kids has a great recipe for a simple tasty snack - Cajun Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

For a really pretty and different treat try these Mexican Pepitorias from The Other Side of the Tortilla.

Finally for a really beautiful upscale treat - I love these Earl Grey Macaroons from Le Jus D'orange


Now that you have all these great ideas - what are you waiting for? Get yourself a few squashes and have fun!!!


The Vegetarian Gourmet




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