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Winter is coming but winter squash is here

14 Recipes
Roasted kabocha squash with a sprig of rosemary.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Recipes to take you through the cold season.

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Given the new stay-at-home orders here in California, now may be a good time to stockpile winter squashes. Perhaps the first comfort food (they’ve been around more than 9,000 years), winter squash is hearty, nourishing and easy on the budget. Oh, and did I mention versatile? They are terrific in soups, stews, purees, tarts, gratins, added to grains, stuffed and even simply baked or roasted and seasoned as themselves. They come in myriad shapes and sizes and can serve as seasonal home decor until you are ready to use them.

They may look intimidating, but cooking with winter squashes is quite easy. Here are five things you need to know and 14 recipes to try:

  • Winter squash is actually harvested in the fall. The name reflects the fact that they are hardy enough to store through the cold months of winter. The large, thick-skinned ones will keep in your pantry for several months, some even getting sweeter over time as their starches convert to sugar.
  • Butternut, buttercup and carnival are the sweetest of the more than 350 varieties commonly grown in North America.
  • Choose preparation methods that don’t require you to peel. Roast or bake squashes with inedible skins (turban, Hubbard, butternut) in their shells (roast low and slow for best flavor). Scoop out the softened flesh and proceed with your preparation. Use squashes with edible rinds (delicata, acorn, carnival sweet dumpling) to serve stuffed or cut into chunks in stews.
  • If you must peel, choose smooth-skinned squashes, such as butternut or turban, and use a well-honed knife or a good, very sharp, vegetable peeler.
  • These squashes are equally delicious and infinitely adaptable. They can be cooked in countless ways and served as a first course, a side dish or a one-dish meal. They take well to almost any flavor profile. And you can roast the seeds for a crunchy garnish or snack.

Acorn squash tamales

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes 2 tamales, serves 6

Creamy butternut squash soup with ginger

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 6

Lentils with kale and butternut squash

Time 50 minutes
Yields Serves 6

Spaghetti squash "pasta" with a zucchini, garlic and tomato sauce

Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Moruno's roasted butternut squash with dukkah

Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 8

Butternut squash with sweet spices

Time Active work time: 10 minutes Total preparation time: 50 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Black pearl and arborio risotto with roasted butternut squash

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Greek winter squash and leek pie

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Caramelized winter squash

Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Spiced winter squash

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4

Squash baked with sage and chile butter

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Weiser Farms roasted squash

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 10

Basic butternut squash soup

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Kabocha squash and chicken hot pot

Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4