We get it. We love pumpkin spice as much as the next knit-scarf-wearing, apple-picking, latte-sipping fall fanatic. The second it drops below 60 degrees, we’re stocking up on pumpkin-flavored cereal and pinning pumpkin pizza recipes (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it). But after a few weeks of pumpkin spice excess, we’re ready to eat…well, pretty much anything but pumpkin. And that’s the perfect time to start exploring all the other tasty winter squash varieties in the produce aisle.
Because while pumpkin gets all the love, there are plenty of sweet and savory winter squashes to choose from — and you may find that (gasp!) the best tasting winter squash is one you’ve never even tried before. Here’s a list of winter squash varieties to try this season.
Also known as a Japanese pumpkin, kabocha squash — which can be red, orange, or green — looks like a small pumpkin with rougher skin. Once you cook a kabocha squash, though, the skin is soft enough to be edible, and it’s a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
HOW TO EAT KABOCHA: Kabocha makes fabulous baked fries. Just scoop the seeds, slice the squash, place the slices on a cookie sheet with a small amount of oil and seasonings, and roast until slightly browned.
Okay, so this isn’t exactly an under-the-radar squash. (Is it even possible to survive winter without butternut squash soup?) But while butternut squash is the sweetest winter squash, it’s also surprisingly healthful — it’s a good source of vitamin A, fiber, and potassium.
Acorn squash is shaped kind of like a giant tree acorn — but while trying to cook acorns is a long and annoying process, you can turn an acorn squash into a hearty side dish in less than an hour with basically zero cooking skills. This dark green winter squash is also a powerhouse of nutrition, offering potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin C.
HOW TO EAT ACORN SQUASH: Slice it into halves or quarters, scoop out the seeds, rub with olive oil, and bake it until you can easily poke the flesh with a fork. Top it with whatever flavor you’re craving — toasted sunflower seeds, fresh herbs, cinnamon, Parmesan, or plain old salt and pepper. Easy peasy.
When you cook this yellow winter squash, the flesh scoops out in thin strands that resemble angel hair pasta. But while a cup of actual spaghetti contains between 38 and 46 grams of carbohydrates, a cup of spaghetti squash only contains 10 grams — plus it’s only 40 calories per cup.
HOW TO EAT SPAGHETTI SQUASH: Use the strands as a substitute for starchy noodles in your favorite pasta recipes. Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor, so it won’t taste weird with a Bolognese or fra diavolo. (Honest.)
Red Kuri Squash
You might have a tough time finding this winter squash at the supermarket, but it’s worth scoping it out at a specialty store or farmers’ market. The buttery flavor and bright red, edible skin will make any entrée instantly more festive — and even better, just one cup of red kuri squash provides almost all of the Vitamin A you need in a day.
HOW TO EAT RED KURI SQUASH: The rich flavor pulls its own weight, so keep it simple. Remove seeds and cut the squash into one-inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until it’s tender and the edges are browned.
Sweet Dumpling Squash
These tiny, white-and-green winter squashes aren’t just for holiday decorations — they’re actually edible, and they’re a great source of vitamins A and C. Plus their size makes them the perfect single-serving squash (i.e. if you’re not looking to scarf down an entire butternut squash by yourself).
HOW TO EAT SWEET DUMPLING SQUASH: Sweet dumpling squashes taste a lot like a sweet potato, so they can stand in for sweet potato in everything from soups to meatless burritos. Just cut them in half and bake until tender.
This oversized, warty, grayish-blue squash looks like a science experiment gone wrong. And getting through its thick skin isn’t easy — you’ll need to use a meat cleaver, or roast it whole for a few minutes to soften the skin enough to slice it with a chef’s knife. But inside, you’ll find a bright orange flesh that tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin — and packs 10 grams of fiber in a one-cup serving.
HOW TO EAT HUBBARD SQUASH: After cracking it open, remove the seeds and roast the two halves hollow-side up, with half a stick of butter in each. Once the squash is tender, scoop out the flesh and the melted butter, and mash with a mixer.
With so many yummy winter squash varieties available, there’s no need to get stuck in a pumpkin rut. And while we may not see a kabocha spice latte craze happening anytime soon, it’s definitely worth adding a few of these winter squashes to your grocery shopping list.