Say hello to these heirloom winter squash varieties. Butternut, acorn, and banana squash are among a host of other heirloom winter squash varieties and are all members of the Cucurbitaceae family, which consists of 800 species of squash, gourds, watermelon, cucumbers, winter melons, and gherkins.
With a hard skin and a sweet orange flesh, acorn squash looks just like its name. Acorn squash is perfect for stuffing. Most varieties are dark green in color but many have stripes and splotches of bright orange and yellow.
It's pear-shaped with sweet, dense flesh. Butternut squash is delightful mashed or pureed into creamy bisque or cut into disks and added to a butternut squash lasagna. Cut in half, remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, and remove the small pocket of seeds located in its base.
It's likely called Delicata because it's small and delicate. It's simple to clean and you don't even need to remove the skin. The flavor is condensed so some think it's actually sweeter and creamier than butternut.
Banana squashes are cylindrical in shape and very large. They vary in size from 10 pounds all the way up to 35 pounds. The flesh is earthy and fragrant with very few seeds, especially in comparison to its huge size.
It's so big with such a thick skin that the best way to open it is to put it in a bag and drop it on the ground and then bake the pieces. If it isn't too huge, you can bake it whole to soften it in the oven. Mashed winter squash is a great side dish.
It's been called a West Indian pumpkin and is very been popular in the Caribbean. Its sweet, juicy, and robust flavor is a great addition to a quesadilla.
Kabocha is a Japanese squash that's drier and denser than most squashes. It's green with light green stripes and known for its buttery richness.
Spaghetti squash is the ideal substitute for pasta, blanketed in tomato sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It's also delicious paired with sage and brown butter. Slice it lengthwise, remove the seeds, and bake with ample olive oil until a fork easily lifts long noodles of winter squash goodness from its center.
9. Blue Hokkaido squash
It looks depressing on the outside with its gray-blue skin but its brightly colored orange flesh makes up for it. Blue Hokkaido squash is actually a type of pumpkin with a deep, nutty, and utterly delicious flavor.