Photo by Kim Steinhilber
We have to admit the title above is slightly misleading. This article’s real title should be “55 Fall Cucurbita Recipes,” but that terminology just didn’t have the same ring to it. After extensive scientific research (and plenty of 9th grade-style diagrams), we learned that pumpkins, gourds, and squash are all members of the cucurbita genus. That’s fancy Latin-talk for “gourd.” The category encompasses the fleshy, large fruits with hard skins displayed in the supermarket produce section during the fall months. From pumpkins to butternut squash, these healthy, fiber-filled fruits are as versatile as they are hardy (they stay fresh on the counter for weeks and in the fridge for months). Get your chef’s knife and seed-scooping hands ready for these gourd-featuring dishes.
Small, round, and shaped like — wait for it — an acorn, the acorn squash is easily found in supermarkets. These little guys have sweet, slightly fibrous flesh and hard, blackish-green outer skins.
Don’t throw out the seeds! Clean the seeds before roasting to crunchy deliciousness by tossing them into a big bowl of warm water. Use your hands to rub them around until the pulp separates to the bottom of the bowl and the clean seeds rise to the top. Season seeds with warm honey, paprika, cayenne, and a pinch of salt before popping them onto a baking sheet and into the oven.
2. Spiced Acorn Squash Cookies
Making cookies is the perfect fall indoor activity, so we had to include these fiber-filled, whole-wheat squash cookies. Peanut butter and applesauce balance out the spicy combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. There’s a hefty amount of brown sugar in the recipe, but feel free to cut it down by half.
3. Acorn Squash and Thyme Risotto
For comfort food with an equally comforting nutrition profile, this risotto covers all the bases. White wine, chicken broth, thyme, Parmesan cheese, and yellow onion give the rice and acorn squash some flavor. You can sub in brown rice, but parboil it first to achieve a softer, creamier consistency.
4. Acorn Squash, Pomegranate, and Farro Salad
This resourceful salad uses both the seeds and the flesh from an acorn squash. The base of the bowl is farro, an ancient strain of wheat, which has more fiber and fewer calories than brown rice or quinoa. Jazz up the grain with cubed acorn squash, toasted seeds, and pomegranate seeds.
5. Adobo Acorn Squash, Crispy Quinoa, and Jalapeno Chimichurri
The herby sauce — made with cilantro, parsley, garlic, jalapenos, lime, and honey — will make a convert of all squash haters. Coat squash in yogurt and spices before placing the whole meal in the oven to seal in the flavor. To up the heat in the chimichurri, leave some seeds in the jalapeno before tossing ingredients in the food processor or blender.
6. Rutabaga and Acorn Squash Salad
Though fall months may conjure cravings for soups, stews, and casseroles, this salad is a perfect seasonal lunch option. It features roasted squash, roasted rutabaga, carrot, hazelnuts, and raisins. The creamy homemade dressing helps sneak in some protein with Greek yogurt and whey powder. For easy lunches all week long, roast the squash and rutabaga on the weekend.
7. Coconut-Crusted Acorn Squash
This sneaky appetizer looks like an onion ring, but it’s exponentially healthier. Instead of onions, they’re made of acorn squash pieces coated in shredded coconut. Rather than frying, these rings are baked in the oven with a touch of olive oil. We love the idea of dipping ‘em in a mix of BBQ sauce and sriracha.
8. Grilled Acorn Squash with Cranberry-Ginger Maple Syrup
This one’s for all the brave fall grillers out there. Don your warmest scarf and fingerless gloves for this simple rendition of roasted squash (or use a Panini press… we won’t tell anyone). Coat slices of acorn squash with melted butter and toss them on a heated grill. Drizzle the slices with a homemade sauce made of maple syrup, cranberries, and ginger, then garnish with toasted walnuts.
Golden colored and shaped like a vase, butternut squash tastes similar to a sweet potato. The flesh is creamy, slightly nutty, and a little more watery than other gourd varieties.
This filling yet healthy soup incorporates shredded chicken, cubed butternut squash, and nutty quinoa. Diced tomatoes and kalamata olives add sweetness and tang.
10. Roasted Butternut Squash, Radicchio, and Onion
You’ll only need three main ingredients for this recipe: butternut squash, radicchio, and onion. The simple combo has the perfect balance of sweetness from the caramelized onions and slight bitterness from the radicchio. To turn this side dish into a main meal, try adding a protein like roasted chicken or lentils and serve over rice.
11. Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas With Cumin-Lime Yogurt Sauce
These are certainly not your average quesadillas, but since they still feature cheese and a tortilla, they technically pass the test. The new-fangled ‘dillas include cubed butternut, kale, onion, mozzarella, and an easy homemade honey and lime yogurt sauce.
12. Butternut Squash Alfredo Sauce
Can a sauce transform your life? This one may: It’s loaded with vegetables, but no one will be able to tell. It’s cheesy, velvety, and sinful — but a whole lot healthier than the traditional butter laden version. The pureed squash adds a rich texture that lets you cut down on cream, cheese, and butter (but not flavor).
13. Butternut Squash Bruschetta with Goat Cheese, Bacon, and Cranberries
The perfect quick but sophisticated appetizer for any party, this bruschetta ditches tomatoes and basil for seasonal ingredients including butternut squash, dried cranberries, apple cider, goat cheese, and crunchy chopped bacon. To make the bruschetta a little healthier, choose a whole-wheat baguette instead of white bread.
14. Butternut Squash Lasagna
This lasagna is no dainty dish. It’s full of ground meat, mushrooms, spinach, and skim ricotta and Gorgonzola cheeses. Lighten up the filling by using extra lean ground turkey meat. Sage compliments the Gorgonzola and squash, while nutmeg, the secret ingredient, adds a touch of nuttiness.
15. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Talk about comfort food. While regular macaroni and cheese recipes depend on heaps of cheese, many sticks of butter, and gallons of cream (slightly exaggerating here), this version relies on pureed butternut squash. The cheese sauce is still creamy and thick, but it’s significantly healthier.
16. Roasted Butternut Squash Slider with Balsamic Caramelized Onions
Squash is the star in this meat-free sandwich. Homemade sriracha mayo and balsamic-glazed caramelized onions compliment the veggies perfectly. Rather than stacking your squash on a big ole bun, try whole-wheat bread or even a wrap for less messy eating.
Also called a peanut squash or a bohemian squash, this creamy squash has a thin, edible skin.
Since the skin of the delicata squash is completely edible, it’s super quick to prepare (and eat every last bit of). This Mexican-flavored dish is filled with brown rice, salsa, black beans, corn, chipotle chilis, shredded cheese, and hot sauce.
18. Stuffed Delicata Squash with Apples and Sausage
Apples and sausage go together like … an excellent flavor combination. Onion and celery add to the dynamic duo to make an almost stew-like filling. The dish is finished off with an unexpected ingredient — a sprinkling of shredded coconut.
19. Roasted Delicata Squash with Pomegranate Seeds and Spicy Maple Dressing
This salad is as pretty as it is healthy with colorful delicata squash rings and ruby-red pomegranate seeds. But beyond all that frilly aesthetic stuff, this salad’s got a lot going on in the taste department — goat cheese, slivered almonds, and a spicy maple apple cider dressing.
20. Roasted Cinnamon-Ginger Delicata Squash
We’re going sweet and salty with this easy baked squash. Coat squash slices in olive oil and go to town seasoning ‘em with cinnamon, ginger, and a touch of granulated sugar.
21. Herbed Apple and Delicata Squash Salad
This salad is elegant yet simple and big on flavor yet low on guilt. Top a bed of arugula and romaine with apple chunks, orange segments, grilled onions, and squash slices. To finish it off, drizzle the homemade herby vinaigrette on top.
22. Chicken Pot-Au-Feu
Pot-Au-Feu is French for “pot on the fire,” and it’s definitely a good way to warm up from the inside out. The main star of this dish is cabbage, but apples, multicolored carrots, onions, sweet potato, and delicata squash are also important ingredients. One of the main elements of the Pot-Au-Feu is a solid piece of crusty bread to soak up any remaining stew — it’s the perfect way to put that stale whole-wheat loaf to use.
23. Whole-Wheat Delicata Squash Muffins
The green striped delicata is sweet and creamy, which makes it excellent for baking. While muffins are generally not the healthiest breakfast or snack choice, this version uses protein-packed quinoa flour plus whole-wheat pastry flour as the base. Maple syrup and walnut chunks are perfect add-ons for this squash-based treat that’s healthy enough to eat first thing in the morning.
24. Chili-Lime Delicata Fries
This appetizer requires hardly any prep time. Once you’ve washed the squash and scooped out the seeds, split it into wedges and toss them on an oven-safe baking sheet. Season the fries with fresh lime juice and chili powder. The aioli — made with homemade mayonnaise and fresh avocado — sounds fancy, but all you need is a food processor and a steady hand for pouring the oil.
Even though it’s a specific variety (that’s also known as the Japanese pumpkin), kabocha is the generic word for squash in Japanese. Kabocha is sweet and flavorful, but can be slightly dry and flaky when cooked.Photo: Shira / In Pursuit of More
25. Kabocha Squash and Scallion Hummus
Excellent news: Hummus doesn’t have to be made of just chickpeas. To change things up, this homemade dip uses two whole cups of roasted kabocha squash and only one can of chickpeas. It’s extra silky-smooth and much prettier than typical hummus. Use as a dip for crackers or veggies, or even as a sandwich spread.
26. Kabocha Squash and Bacon Fritatta
The frittata, the perfect vehicle for sneaking veggies into any meal, gets a fall twist with this recipe. Beyond just the kabocha squash, sage, nutmeg, and bacon warm up this easy breakfast for the colder months. Freeze slices for breakfasts on the go.
27. Quinoa Salad with Squash, Beets, and Arugala
This salad includes tons of flavors that work together — sweetness from the pumpkin and beets, nuttiness from the quinoa, a bite from the mustard, balsamic, and arugula, and tartness from the pomegranate seeds. The pretty and colorful salad would make a perfect side for a holiday party.
28. Kabocha, Cranberry Brown Rice Couscous
Cranberries, another cold month staple, jazz up this light and fluffy couscous. And here’s some good news for all the gluten-free eaters out there — you can now buy cous cous made from brown rice (rather than the semolina flour used to make the traditional stuff). This simple dish also includes cubed kabocha, onion, and pine nuts for some crunch.
29. Roasted Kabocha Squash with Coconut Oil and Sage
This simple squash dish focuses on a few key flavors — curry powder, brown sugar, grated parm, and sage. The recipe explains how to fry sage, but we imagine it would be just as good fresh. Drizzle each slice of kabocha with coconut oil to help the seasoning stay put.
30. Roasted Kabocha Squash Spinach Salad with an Orange Honey Pistachio Vinaigrette
This salad has all the essentials for a perfectly autumnal meal. Top a bed of spinach with roasted slices of kabocha squash, pear slices, pistachios, and feta cheese (goat cheese goes well too). Simple, right? The vinaigrette is a little more involved, but we swear, homemade dressings are worth it.
31. Sweet Kabocha Pudding
Trade in the processed vanilla and chocolate pudding cups (we hear Air Bud likes those) for a homemade rendition. The main ingredients in this unconventional pudding are squash and almond milk. Maple syrup is used as a sweetener while agar — a thickener made from algae — keeps the pudding from turning into soup. Once you’ve cooked the squash, this pudding is a cinch to make.
32. Kabocha with Tomatoes, Feta, and Basil Oil
There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe, but fear not! There are plenty of ways to simplify it. The main components of this side dish are pretty basic, but the basil oil and multiple seasonings turn this recipe into a full on culinary masterpiece. If you’d like to tone down the work, just combine the roasted kabocha, cherry tomatoes, feta, and roasted red onions with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
This squash is bright yellow inside and out. When cooked, the flesh of the spaghetti squash separates into strands that resemble its namesake.
While basil is the usual base for pesto, this recipe features parsley and kale. And instead of pine nuts, the sauce uses heart-healthy walnuts. To add a little crunch to the final product, top the squash pasta with crushed walnuts and shaved Parmesan.
34. Greek Salad Spaghetti Squash Bowl
Get inspired by classic Greek flavors with this hearty veggie-based bowl. Combine cubed cucumbers, chopped red onion, chopped green pepper, Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and feta with cooked spaghetti squash. To dress the Greek salad mixture, whip up a quick dressing made with lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and an ample amount of olive oil.
35. Spaghetti Squash Gremolata
Gremolata — an herby Italian condiment usually made of garlic, lemon, and parsley — is an easy (and healthy) way to season spaghetti squash. This gremolata also features fresh, diced tomatoes for a pop of color.
36. BBQ Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole
This one pot meal combines shredded chicken, two varieties of onion, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and shredded cheese. Greek yogurt and low fat sour cream add a touch of creaminess to the casserole.
37. Spaghetti Squash Tortillas
While spaghetti squash is usually served like… wait for it… spaghetti, this recipe switches things up and stuffs the squash between tortillas. This appetizer or lunch also includes black beans, feta, cucumber, and red onion. Garnish with the super-simple sauce (it’s literally just yogurt, lime juice, salt, and pepper).
38. Spaghetti Squash with Basil Cashew Cream
If you’ve never heard of cashew cream before, it may just blow your mind. The cream substitute is made from raw cashews that are soaked overnight, drained, and then blended with water to form a smooth paste. To flavor the cream for this sauce, add lemon juice, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and of course, salt and pepper. Stir together sauce, spaghetti squash, and fresh basil for a surprisingly light, comforting meal.
39. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Sub in versatile spaghetti squash to lighten up a typically heavy winter favorite: lasagna. Using spaghetti squash instead of lasagna noodles doesn’t exactly taste or feel the same, but it adds an extra serving of veggies. The key to assembling a lasagna-like casserole is to remove as much moisture from the spaghetti squash as possible. After cooking and cooling, squeeze out any extra liquid with cheesecloth and a sieve.
40. Mexican Stuffed Squash
Instead of dirtying up extra dishes, this meal’s bowl is totally edible (although we recommend tossing the squash’s rind unless you have seriously strong teeth). Roast a spaghetti squash and then pile black bean corn relish and a three-ingredient avocado cream sauce on top.
41. Sesame Soy Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli and Edamame
This Asian-inspired meal blends sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey for a sweet and savory sauce. Sesame seeds add a little crunch, while broccoli and edamame make the dish even healthier.
Surprisingly enough, the big orange pumpkins we carve and display on the front step are not so tasty. For cooking, grab a small sugar pumpkin, which features non-stringy flesh and a sweet flavor.
We’ve roasted chickpeas before, but never like this. This sweet snack is like a bunch of mini bites of pumpkin pie (does it get any better?). It’s as easy as pie: Just drizzle the chickpeas with oil and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, then go to town with the pumpkin butter.
43. Spiced Pumpkin, Yogurt, and Granola Parfait
These 10-minute parfaits taste indulgent, but they’re hardly sinful. First, sweeten pureed pumpkin with agave nectar and add ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then comes the fun part. Layer the pumpkin mixture with Greek yogurt and granola. That’s it!
44. Pumpkin Lentil Tacos
Pumpkin is usually used in sweet recipes, but it works just as well in savory dishes. Serve brown lentils, diced onion, chopped button mushrooms, lots of spinach, plus pumpkin in taco shells for a vegetarian fall-themed dinner.
45. Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Gnocchi
Gnocchi, best known as Italian dumplings, are usually made from just potatoes, flour, eggs, and salt. This healthier version has more staying power thanks to fiber from whole-wheat flour and pureed pumpkin. Eat the gnocchi with a light coating of olive oil and Parmesan, or serve in a soup or stew.
46. Flourless Pumpkin Chia Seed Blondies
This gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and egg-free dessert is hardly free of flavor. Ripe plantains, chia seeds, and pumpkin allow the bars to stay moist and chewy without any flour.
47. Roasted Pumpkin, Lentil, and Couscous Gallette
This savory pastry looks as good as it tastes. The dough is made from a medley of flours — all-purpose, whole wheat, buckwheat, and almond. For the filling, top seasoned lentils with thinly sliced roasted almonds and grated Parmesan, then layer with sliced pumpkin (that’s the good-looking part).
49. Pumpkin Pie Bars with Raw Graham Cracker Crust
Take pumpkin pie out of the pie pan with these dessert bars. These healthy, delicious treats start with a raw, gluten-free crust made from walnuts, dried apricots, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The filling ditches cream in favor of dates, coconut oil, and of course, pureed pumpkin.
50. Pumpkin Cornbread
Quick breads are great because, obviously, they’re speedy. This corn bread gets a healthy makeover with pumpkin puree and whole-wheat flour. The squares would make a perfect side for the pumpkin turkey chili above.
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of gourds out there in every shape, size, and color imaginable. While the following varieties aren’t as popular as the gourds we outlined above, we couldn’t leave them in the dust.
51. Stuffed Dumpling Squash with Quinoa, Bacon, and CheesePhoto: Marla / Family Fresh Cooking
For another take on stuffed squash, this gluten-free recipe uses the lesser-known dumpling squash. The colorful main meal incorporates quinoa, red onion, zucchini, bell pepper, bacon, and cheddar cheese.
52. Banana Squash Veggieducken
Forget the turducken. This culinary portmanteau is the go-to vegetarian alternative come Turkey Day. The dish requires a whole lot of time and effort (well, maybe less than a turducken), but it’s worth it. A veggieducken is two sweet potatoes inside leeks inside a banana squash with stuffing between each layer.
53. Hubbard Squash and Banana Smoothie
We’ve used pumpkin in smoothies before, so why not try other gourds? This fall drink uses hubbard squash, banana, dates, almond milk, and pumpkin pie spice to make breakfast (or snack time) really feel like autumn.
54. Pumpkin Fried Rice in Carnival Squash Bowl
Sugar pie pumpkins also make a great savory ingredient. For a gourd double whammy, stuff a carnival squash with pumpkin, bacon, and mixed veggie fried rice. For perfect consistency, it’s best to use fully cooled rice, which will prevent the dreaded rice blob (and choose brown rice for a healthier alternative).
55. Curried Carnival Squash and Mango Soup
Roasted squash easily turns into a velvety, creamy soup base without much work. This slurp-worthy dish turns up the heat with curry powder, ginger, and cumin. Don’t forget the unexpected ingredient, mango, to sweeten up the soup.
What’s your favorite gourd to cook with? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmcdermott