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Cooking In Season: Everything You Need To Know About Winter Squash

12/30/2015 11:49 EST | Updated 12/30/2015 11:59 EST

Winter squash is one of few fruits seasonally available in Canada during the colder months.

There are so many varieties to choose from, and countless ways to cook them up. Soups, salads, rice bowls and tacos — you can include squash in practically every dish you make this week!

The varieties of winter squash include:

When To Buy It

Squash is harvested in the summer and fall, and is in season almost year-round since they store so well. Most types of winter squash make a splash on the food scene in the fall, because of their mild, sweet flavour profile that is especially popular during autumn holidays, such as Thanksgiving.

How To Choose One

When buying winter squash, make sure to avoid those that have bruising or brown rotting spots on the outside. If you intend to use the squash right away, however, you can often get a bargain in the discounted produce section at your local grocery store. It's just a matter of cutting away the bruised parts.

How To Store It

Winter squash can be stored in a cool, dry pantry for several weeks without spoiling, and can be distinguished from summer squash (such as zucchini), because of the harder skin that makes them ideal for storage.

How To Use It

When you're ready to use your squash, you can peel it using a squash peeler, and cut it up into smaller pieces for roasting or sautéing. To roast a squash, simply cut it in half and smother in olive oil before putting it in the oven.. Cutting any kind of winter squash can be a challenge, but a handy tip is to microwave the squash for one or two minutes until it softens enough to be cut in half with a large, sharp knife. Turning the squash occasionally will help with softening it faster.

butternut squash

One of the most popular varieties of winter squash is butternut squash, which we've used here along with carrots and celery in this super simple, super easy soup recipe!

Easy Butternut Squash, Carrot & Sage Soup

Makes about 6 bowls

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped

4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 to 2 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 1/2 tsp Herbamare seasoning salt (or 1 tsp salt)

1/2 tsp pepper

4 leaves sage, finely chopped (optional; can substitute with 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley)

Suggested Toppings:

Fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, cilantro)

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Sour cream and chives

Crispy chickpeas

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. When oil is ready, add butter, onions, garlic and celery, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Chop carrots and squash into 1-inch pieces and add to saucepan, sautéing for about 5 minutes and stirring often.
  3. squash

  4. Add water and bouillon cube, then bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Once vegetables are tender, carefully pour contents into a blender and blend until smooth, or mash vegetables using a potato masher.
  6. Garnish with your choice of toppings, and serve.

butternut squash

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