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Fall in Love with Squashes This Fall

The other day, I was reading The Observer and noticed an article written by Claire Kopischke where she and her friends ranked different pumpkin spice products they had picked up at stores around the South Bend area. As someone who has been keeping a can of pumpkin puree in my room since I noticed a cool autumn breeze starting to drift through campus, I can say that Claire’s article resonated with the pumpkin spice lover in me. However, it also got me thinking about the other types of winter squash that get pushed out of the spotlight when pumpkin hits the stage around this time of year. So, for all you forgotten squash out there, this article is dedicated to you. 

 

Spaghetti Squash 

As someone who is not on the dining plan and has to balance cooking (semi-) healthy meals with my other obligations, spaghetti squash is a lifesaver for me. This squash is amazing for busy college students who want to have a nutritious meal but don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen with a textbook in one hand and a spatula in the other for hours. It’s also a godsend for those of us who are gluten-free and craving a pasta meal. 

For first-time spaghetti squash chefs, here’s my go-to recipe for a quick baked spaghetti squash pasta meal:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F and cut your spaghetti squash in half. 
  2. Spoon out the seeds and coat the inside of both halves in olive oil or butter and salt and pepper.
  3. Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Let sit on a countertop until cool and run a fork through the insides to separate them from the shell. The squash should peel away in noodle-like strips.
  5. Using the shell as a bowl, add in any pasta toppings you desire. I like chopped bacon, baby spinach and mozzarella cheese shreds.
  6. Place back in the oven for a few minutes to let toppings set and cheese melt.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Acorn Squash

I’ll admit it: the first time I bought an acorn squash, I didn’t even think about eating it. When I first came across a display of white acorn squash at Meijer’s, I bought one solely to sharpie a scary face on it and make it into a squash ghost decoration. It wasn’t long, though, before I began to wonder how this odd little squash would taste and decided to find out for myself. This squash is nice because it’s smaller than a lot of the other winter squashes, and so it won’t take up too much space in your room if you decide to experiment with it. 

My first foray with it was making it into a soup with diced apples, leeks and carrots, but on a busy weeknight, I have two favorite ways to incorporate it.

To make a stuffed acorn squash:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F and cut your acorn squash in half.
  2. Spoon out the seeds and cover the inside with butter or olive oil and salt and pepper.
  3. Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. When tender, remove from oven and fill with stuffings of your choice. I like diced sausage, apples, quinoa and spinach or kale.
  5. Place back in the oven for a few minutes to let toppings set.
  6. Enjoy!

To make maple butter acorn squash:

  1. Preheat an oven to 425°F and cut your acorn squash in half.
  2. Spoon out the seeds and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and place 1 tablespoon each of butter and maple syrup into each half, spreading mixture to cover each half.
  5. Place back into the oven and continue to bake for 25-35 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Butternut Squash

There’s a reason college kids don’t pay attention to butternut squash: it’s big, it’s awkward to peel and it’s hard and time-consuming to cut into cookable chunks. I tried it myself and realized pretty quickly that, if you plan to buy a whole butternut squash from the store, you’re in for a pretty big challenge when it comes time to make something out of it. Take a pro-tip from me and head over to the freezer section at Meijer’s to grab yourself some frozen butternut squash cubes or spiralized squash noodles instead.

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate butternut squash into your diet, one of my favorite ways is to use it to make a healthier version of mac and cheese! For this recipe, you’ll need 3 cups of frozen butternut squash cubes, thawed; a box of pasta; 2 ½ cups of milk of choice; 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese; and seasoning, to taste.

  1. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions.
  2. Thaw the squash cubes in the microwave. When they are soft to touch, use a fork or a Nutribullet to puree.
  3. Mix the pureed squash with the milk and seasoning.
  4. Once the pasta has cooked, drain and add back to the cooking pot, along with squash mixture and cheese.
  5. Mix ingredients over low heat until cheese has melted.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin

I felt like it was only appropriate to end this article with the OG winter squash: pumpkin! If you’re a pumpkin spice fan, it’s always a good idea to keep a can of pumpkin puree and a jar of pumpkin spice on hand. With all the pumpkin products available, making something from scratch isn’t necessary to enjoy this squash, but it can still be a fun way to branch out past your daily pumpkin spice latte. 

Personally, I absolutely adore the ease of meal-prepping overnight oats, and you can’t go wrong with a steaming bowl of pumpkin pie oats on a cold autumn morning. Check out how to make it below:

  1. Get a tight-sealing tupperware container or mason jar.
  2. Add a ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of milk of choice, ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice and 1 teaspoon of flax and/or chia seeds.
  3. Seal the top of the container and shake well.
  4. Refrigerate for four hours, preferably overnight.
  5. In the morning, heat up in the microwave or eat cold.
  6. Add toppings such as pecans, granola, chocolate chips or coconut chips and enjoy!

Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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Tori Smith

Notre Dame '21

A political science and history major at ND, Tori loves board games, home games, and binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. When she's not writing listicles or trying to thrift together her wardrobe, you can find her planning events for Notre Dame's chapter of Her Campus and researching for her senior history thesis on Native American residential boarding schools.
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