Squashes are some of the most colorful and versatile vegetables in your supermarket's produce section, and they're available year-round. Conveniently, tender summer squashes work well in light warm-weather dishes, while rich winter squashes are ideal for cold-weather meals. Both summer squashes and winter squashes are healthy and nutritious foods, that deserve to play a bigger role in your kitchen. If you're on the lookout for easy and appealing squash recipes, try these 10 for some culinary inspiration.
1. Butternut Squash and Sausage Pasta
Hearty, easy-to-make recipes are handy to have at any time of the year, but they're especially welcome when the weather turns cold. That's an ideal time to make up this butternut squash and Italian sausage pasta dish, with its comforting mix of flavors and textures. If you make it with pre-cooked Italian sausage, it all comes together in a single pot and you can simplify your prep even more if you buy your squash already diced. The basic recipe lends itself to improvisation, so feel free to swap out the cheeses, the pasta or even the squash for your favorite alternatives.
2. Butternut Squash Soup
Your supermarket's produce department probably stocks several winter squashes during the colder months of the year, but the largest display will almost always feature butternut squashes. Their thick, meaty neck and small seed cavity gives you the maximum amount of squash for your investment in prep time, and it just happens to make a beautifully rich, silky-smooth soup. You can roast, steam or pressure-cook the squash — whichever you prefer. If you get the rest of the soup ingredients underway while the squash is cooking, you can make it from start to finish in an hour or less.
3. Baked Acorn Squash
Some squashes, from the larger butternuts to behemoth Hubbards and banana squashes, are tasty but much too large for a weeknight meal. Smaller squashes, including the widely available acorn varieties, are just the right size for two to four diners. Halved, roasted acorn squash makes a fine side dish for any autumnal menu, and it's usually ready in well under an hour (depending on size). They're even small enough to fit into the oven alongside a roast or a bird, which makes meal prep extra-convenient. Depending on your taste and the meal you're serving it with, you can skew the squash in a sweet or savory direction by your choice of seasonings.
4. Stuffed Acorn Squash
This delicious stuffed acorn squash makes the perfect side or entrée. Combine flavors from savory sausage and sweet apple for a tasty seasonal meal. Plus, it can be easily transformed into a vegetarian-friendly dish by omitting meat.
5. Salmon With Dill, Butternut Squash and Snap Peas
One-pot meals are popular because of their convenience, and because they create minimal mess for afterwards. During the months when it's not too hot to have your oven on, sheet pan dinners offer the same level of convenience through roasting. The best recipes take full advantage of ingredients that thrive in the oven's dry heat, like this salmon dinner with butternut squash and snap peas.
6. Spaghetti Squash "Pasta"
For anyone who's low-carbing or can't/won't eat gluten, comforting pasta dishes can be some of the hardest things to give up. There are a variety of potential replacements, from rice noodles to gluten-free pasta to carb-free konjac noodles, but one of the simplest and tastiest is spaghetti squash. Cooked and shredded spaghetti squash can be used as a straight-up pasta replacement with your favorite sauces and garnishes.
7. Roasted Butternut Squash
Squash's versatility means you can make it as simple or as sophisticated as you choose, whichever works best for your skill level and the overall meal you're preparing. Roasted butternut squash definitely falls on the simple side of the scale. The meaty squash has a relatively small cavity, so there's also minimal waste. Just cut the squash into halves or wedges, and roast for up to an hour – depending on its size – until it's completely tender. You can serve the squash as-is, with sweet or savory seasonings, or scoop out the cooked flesh once it's cooled and use it as an ingredient in other squash recipes.
8. Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Squashes are mostly categorized as tender "summer" varieties or hard "winter" varieties, but spaghetti squash occupies a sort of middle ground. You can prepare it in many ways, but roasting it and then using a fork to pull out the noodle-like threads is most common. Once it's prepared, you can use it to replace Western-style pasta or Asian noodles in your favorite dishes, or simply stir-fry it like any other vegetable. For an appealing hint of smoky flavor, give the squash a few minutes on a grill or under your broiler at the end of its cooking time.
9. Ritz Squash Casserole
Casseroles are a great convenience food, perfect for anything from potlucks and other social occasions to easy weeknight meals at home. Unfortunately many casserole recipes are unnecessarily stodgy and heavy, filled with starchy potatoes, rice or pasta. This Ritz-topped squash casserole makes for a refreshing change from the usual. It's made from yellow crookneck or other summer squashes, and it contains relatively modest quantities of cheese. The golden topping of crushed crackers gives it a pleasant textural contrast, without taking away from the summery lightness of the dish.
10. Cooking Yellow Crookneck Squash
Yellow crookneck squash isn't as widely used as the more familiar zucchini, but its flavor and uses are very similar. That means any recipe you have for zucchini works equally well with its yellow cousin, and is no harder to make. You can opt to simply sauté sliced crookneck in oil and season it with salt and pepper or fresh herbs, or cook it in a skillet with other seasonal vegetables as this recipe does. Either way, its subtle fresh flavor works well as part of a lighter meal.
11. How to Cook Pattypan Squash
Winter squashes are rich and sweet, but summer squashes have a lighter, fresher flavor with its own appeal. Zucchini is the most familiar, but there are summer squashes in all different shapes, sizes, and variations of green and yellow. One of the smallest and most appealing is the pattypan, resembling a small spinning top with scalloped edges. You can roast, grill or saute these tiny, tasty squashes. They're usually small enough to cook whole or even stuff, but you can also halve, quarter or slice them.