Depending on where you live, fresh vegetables can seem like they’re in short supply in the dead of winter, but this is exactly the time when many squash shine. Winter squash are generally harvested between September and October, but when stored correctly, many varieties can last throughout the winter, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. These hearty counterparts to summer’s thin-skinned summer courgettes tend to be larger, with thicker skins and mature seeds, like their most famous members, pumpkins and butternuts. But there are plenty of other varieties to go around, each with its own look and flavor, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Better still, the seeds from these winter squash are edible, so you can bake them in the oven and enjoy every last nutritious bit of the squash!
Many winter squash, particularly those with orange-colored flesh, are a source of powerful antioxidants called carotenoids, and most varieties have notable amounts of vitamins B6 and C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, such as winter squash, has been shown to help lower blood pressure and blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2021 found that eating foods high in potassium, such as winter squash, while minimizing sodium decreases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While winter squash may be best known for being roasted and pureed into soups, they’re incredibly versatile in the kitchen, with a mild flavor that makes them an easy addition to sweet and savory dishes alike. And the sheer number of types ensures you’ll never get bored working them into your menu rotation. The following nine recipes will help you learn to love these delicious and incredibly nutritious winter vegetables and all that they bring to the table.
RELATED: Fall and Winter Foods to Fight Depression