Eating more vegetables is a lofty goal — especially after the weather cools and summer's greenery begins to fade. That's when squash steps in. It's versatile, loaded with nutrition and most importantly, tastes good. Check out these five ideas for incorporating squash into meals for weeknights or special occasions.
As a Stealth Ingredient
Stealth squash, pureed in the Vitamix machine, can be your best friend if you have a veggie-averse family. Use it to mute the acidity of your kids' spaghetti sauce or as a thickener in soups, stews or chili. It's especially easy to hide in macaroni and cheese, which already has the right color. You can mask its sweetness by adding buttermilk or plain yogurt, which also brings out the cheesy tang in your sauce.
As a Noodle
Don't overlook spaghetti squash. Its noodle-like strands are a good low-carb spaghetti substitute, but their versatility doesn’t stop there. Add them to a stir-fry meal in place of bean sprouts or rice. At dinnertime, substitute spaghetti squash for the starch in your favorite casserole recipe.
In a Salad
The arrival of cold weather doesn't mean salads must exit. The sweet flavor of diced, roasted squash makes a beautiful complement to kale and other sturdy fall greens. Match squash with roasted beets and a tangy vinaigrette for a light lunch salad. Roasted squash with dried cranberries and toasted nuts hits all the right autumnal notes as a starter or side dish. Spaghetti squash can take the place of Asian-style noodles in a cold salad with julienned vegetables and a pungent, gingery dressing.
As the Main Dish
Don't be afraid to make a squash the focus of your meal. A baked Sweet Dumpling squash or baby pumpkin is the perfect serving bowl for squash soup, rich stew or hearty chili. Split an Acorn, Delicata or Sweet Dumpling squash and fill the halves with individual portions of stew or pilaf. For a family-sized version of stuffed squash, fill a single large Buttercup or a section of mammoth banana squash.
As a Sweet Treat
Use pureed squash instead of canned pumpkin in your favorite seasonal treats. Ditch the high-calorie pie crust and bake pumpkin-pie filling in halved Sweet Dumplings or Delicatas instead. Better yet, skip the custard entirely. Caramelize apples and sliced squash with a drizzle of maple syrup for a simple alternative with all the flavor. For a richer (if less virtuous) dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of whipped cream.