All About Squash

Saturday 16 September 2023

All About Squash


There is this girl on YouTube that I have been watching. Vintage Dietitian.  She is a girl who has an interest in anything vintage who also happens to be a nutritionist.  She is working her way through a vintage cookbook she picked up at a flea market entitled, 52 Sunday Dinners. Written in the 1920's it is a book filled with seasonal Sunday Dinner Menus for every Sunday of the year.

I have really been enjoying her videos. She has taken on a mammoth task and I am finding her journey to be very interesting. Although she is a nutritionist, its very obvious that she is not much of a cook (she's young) and she will be the first one to tell you she is not a baker.

One thing about Vintage recipes and cookbooks is that they very much took for granted that the person using them knew a little bit about cooking.  Back in those days cooking was the domain of the housewife and most women were housewives. They were tutored at their mother's knees and for the most part knew what they were doing.

Assuming this to be so, most of the recipes from those early days can be very ambiguous to say the least.  They can be lacking in even the simplest of instructions taking it for granted that anyone who is using them and cooking for a family will know what they mean.  Sizes of pans will be left out. Temperatures range from a low oven to a high oven. If you are not that knowledgeable about cooking, you would have no idea.

I've been cooking since I was a young girl and cooked for my family then (as my mother worked) and also raised a family of my own, with five hungry children. I also trained as a Chef and cooked professionally for many years. I think it is fair to say that I know my way around a kitchen, recipes and ingredients!

I do find this young lady very entertaining.  Yesterday she was cooking a menu featuring the following (36th Sunday Dinner):

  • Chicken Pot Pie 
  • Bulwark Potatoes 
  • Steamed Squash 
  • Fresh Peach Salad Soda 
  • Brown Bread 
  • Date Tart
I did find myself chuckling to myself as I watched it. Its so clear that she really doesn't know a lot about cooking.  I find myself commiserating with her as I remember what it was like for me when I was a young cook and just starting out.  

She was steaming the squash and it was very obvious that she knows nothing at all about squash.  Clearly from the recipe, it was supposed to be a Winter Squash for the steamed squash, although that was not mentioned. It just said squash.    Watching her peel the yellow summer squash and try to scrape the seeds from inside it really brought a smile to my face, and then the look on her face when she saw that it was to be steamed for 40 minutes.  To me, this was a very obvious clue that its a winter squash not a summer squash needed for this recipe. 

Then watching her press the water out of the squash in a colander with a potato masher to mash it, again, so funny and obviously meant to be done with a Winter squash.

It dawned on me afterwards, maybe there are a lot of people out there who do not know the difference between a Winter Squash and a Summer Squash. Maybe to some people, squash is just squash, like zucchini.  

I thought I would do an informational post today about Squash and at the end share some recipes to use it.  It is my hope that people will be able to learn something from this post!


Squash is a truly North American vegetable. On its own it can be somewhat bland, but this quality also makes it very versatile, as it renders it conducive  to quite a variety of seasonings.  This also makes it a natural partner for a number of other vegetables and many types of protein.

There are two types of squash in the main. Summer Squash and Winter Squash.   Summer Squash have soft skins, most often (at least in the younger stages) with edible seeds and a tender, more watery interior.  Winter Squash are hard shelled with predominantly inedible skins and a drier much more mealier textured interior.

Summer Squash


Summer squashes are available pretty much all year round these days, but fresh and locally available during the summer months. They grow very easily in the garden and can often take over.  

For this reason a popular summer squash known as Zucchini  is often known as the Monster of the garden as once it starts to ripen and be pickable it takes over and just never seems to end. It is a race to get them picked and eaten in their prime as they seem to multiply like gremlins overnight!

When picking a summer squash it is ideal to look for small, young, firm squash, with a good, bright color and smooth, shiny green or yellow skins.

cutting summer squash

Summer squash can be eaten raw with a dip or in a salad, or it can be eaten cooked in soups and stews, in casseroles along with other vegetables or on its own, or stuffed with a variety of meats, cheeses or grains and baked.  It goes well with any protein.

One pound of summer squash is enough for four people, and is lovely steamed, pan-fried or roasted.

Summer squash should be picked while it is still young, immature and small in size for the best flavor. (Before the skin hardens.) Larger ones are known outside of North America as Marrows, whilst the smaller ones are called courgettes.

There are a great many varieties such as dark green zucchini,  straight and crookneck smooth skinned yellow, pale green and yellow patty pan.  All are interchangeable in recipes.

Unlike Winter Squash, Summer Squash is quite perishable and should be kept refrigerated and used promptly.


stuffed zucchini

STUFFED ZUCCHINI WITH TOASTED WALNUTS & FETA This recipe makes a really delicious Vegetarian Course and is very simple to make. Lightly blanched and then hollowed out the chopped flesh is sauteed with a variety of herbs, onions, garlic, bread crumbs and feta cheese before being stuffed back into the shells and baked until golden brown.

Cheesy Zucchini & Corn Bake

CHEESY ZUCCHINI AND CORN BAKEAside from the seasoning all you need to make this tasty dish are six simple ingredients!  Fresh or frozen corn, chopped zucchini, chopped onion, garlic, and two cheeses.  I love recipes like this which don't require a ton of ingredients!!This is a small batch recipe for a delicious side dish which may be doubled to serve more. Its a great way to get a picky vegetable eater to dig in! Quick, easy, delicious! 

small batch zucchini coffee cake

SMALL BATCH ZUCCHINI COFFEE CAKE - Zucchini is one of those vegetables that really excels in cakes and sweet bakes. This deliciously moist coffee cake has a beautiful spiced streusel topping that the whole family will enjoy!

lemon drizzle zucchini loaf

LEMON DRIZZLE ZUCCHINI LOAF - This is a basic lemon drizzle loaf, highly flecked with green and moist and delicious with plenty of lemon flavour both in the batter and in that lush lemon glaze which gets spooned on top of the baked loaf when it is finished. With its beautiful tender crumb and fabulous sweet/tart flavor and that glaze, it is a real people pleaser!

winter squash


Winter squash is at the height of its season in the autumn and the winter, although these days you can generally avail yourself of it all year round.  Characterized by a hard inedible flesh, winter squash coms in many shapes and sizes, ranging from pale white and speckled to bright orange and everything in between. Round, long, oblong, large small, some of them look quite monstrous and are covered with warts and bumps. 

Winter squash is picked in the fall when they are mature and their skins have hardened.  If you grow them yourself, make sure that when you pick them you leave a part of the stem attached otherwise they won't keep very well. 

Some common forms of Winter squashes are Acorn squash,  Green Hubbard Squash, Tan Butternut Squash, Buttercup or Turban Squash, Green and Gold Delicious Squash, Banana Squash, and Pumpkins.  Another popular Winter squash is the Spaghetti Squash, which is about the size of a football. Its called Spaghetti Squash as when it is cooked, you can scrape the flesh out in spaghetti like ribbons.

Winter squashes can really vary in size and weight from a small 1-pound Acorn squash to  a 5-6 pound or even larger Hubbard.

Butternut Squash

One of the more popular Winter squashes is the Butternut Squash. With its sweet and dry flesh, it lends itself beautifully to soups, stews, bakes, roasting, steaming etc.

It is my favorite of all the Winter squashes.  It has a lovely mellow and sweet flavor and a beautiful texture.

cutting squash

Winter squashes can be somewhat hard to cut open and peel.  Once cut open it is very easy to remove the seeds with a melon baller.  It makes short work of the job.  You can wash and dry the seeds and use the to plant more squash in the coming year, or you can roast them to be enjoyed salted as a snack.  Pumpkin Seeds are especially nice done this way. 

Available in the autumn and winter, look for Winter squashes that have a firm, hard shell without blemishes. They can often be rough and bumpy and that's okay. 

Cooked they are great baked or steamed and then pureed to use in soups, breads, muffins, cakes and in pies. They make a great vegetable accompaniment  and are excellent served with all kinds of meats and poultry.

They are fabulous, chunked, steamed and then mashed with butter and some seasoning.  They also lend themselves beautifully to roasting.   Generally speaking one pound will serve two people.

These will keep well stored in a cool dry place for several months.


Mashed Potato Squash

MASHED POTATO SQUASH - This is a variety of squash which has a nice dry flesh that once cooked is very similar in consistency to mashed potatoes.  This was cooked in the microwave and then mashed together with plenty of butter and seasoning.  I have also used it to make a Twice Baked Squash Casserole.  

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Honey & Cheddar Croutons

SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH HONEYThis is a very simple soup to make.  You cut your squash in half down the middle and roast it (covered) on a baking tray along with a whole head of garlic.  Don't worry, the garlic gets all sweet and mellow when it is roasted. You won't smell, but your kitchen will smell beautiful. Peppers and onions are added to the pan to roast a bit longer. Pureed with some flavorful stock and preserved gingerroot, then reheated, topped with a drizzle of cream, some cheese and honey croutons. Delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH LASAGNE-This is another real favorite of mine. The butternut squash gets all caramelized and sweet, along with the onions. The sage adds a beautiful herby touch, without being over powering. That bechamel . . . so buttery and rich . . . all layered with gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Trust me when I say you won't miss the meat.  This is perfect just as it is. Rich, creamy and delicious!

Chicken with Leeks & Butternut Squash

CHICKEN WITH LEEKS AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH This is such a simple dish . . . with plenty of leeks and butternut squash. I have used chicken thighs which are perfect for oven braising. There is also stock, herbs and barley. This is a really beautiful combination to be sure. Wonderfully satisfying.

Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Bread

PUMPKIN, ORANGE AND CRANBERRY BREADThis pumpkin bread recipe makes the best pumpkin bread ever and that is all down to my mother-in-law's secret ingredient, which is frozen orange juice concentrate. This always turns out. I have never had this fail. It is incredibly moist and dense, without being soggy. This means that it cuts into perfect slices every single time. It is also very family friendly, not too spicy and not too sweet. This loaf has a perfect balance.

And there you have it. I hope that you have learned a bit more about the differences between Winter and Summer Squashes and I hope that you have been inspired to want to use some in your kitchen today!  

We are battening down the hatches here in Nova Scotia, in preparation for Hurricane Lee.  Wish us luck!

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Thanks so much for visiting! Do come again!


  1. We have just harvested our Butternut Squashes . We love them ! Take great care while that Hurricane passes ⛈️.....get the kitties indoors safe and sound 💐x

    1. Thank you! We were very lucky in that the hurricane passed with minimal damage. God is good! xo


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