Hokkaido, butternut squash and other pumpkins
Everyone’s heard of the small orange Hokkaido pumpkin. But what about a butternut or spaghetti squash? Today we take a look at the most popular pumpkins and how to use them.
Autumn means it’s pumpkin time and we’re excited. As well as tasting great, these super versatile fruits can be boiled, fried or baked. There are over 800 different varieties, but the Hokkaido pumpkin is one of the most popular. Read on to find out more about it and four of its delicious cousins.
Appearance: The bright orange Hokkaido is a real lightweight compared to some of its pumpkin cousins, tipping the scales at a maximum of 2 kg.
Origin: As the name suggests, the Hokkaido pumpkin comes from Japan where it has been cultivated since the late 19th century. It arrived in Europe some twenty years ago and has been a favourite of the Germans ever since.
Use: Thanks to its mealy consistency, this pumpkin is perfect for soups, purees or risottos. And for all you new parents out here – its mild, sweet taste always scores high with babies!
Did you know? No need to peel this one! The skin becomes soft during cooking and can be eaten safely, making Hokkaido just the job for pumpkin novices.
2. Butternut squash
Appearance: A pale yellow squash that resembles a pear with its long top and fuller bottom.
Origin: Although originally from South America, this squash is now hugely popular in Europe. The main harvesting season is traditionally in autumn.
Use: True to its name, the flesh has a mild, buttery flavour. Tired of soup? Try baking or roasting it instead. Simply slice the squash in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook for around 45 minutes at 175 degrees. And here’s another tip: the long shape makes it perfect for filling!
Did you know? If you plan on keeping your butternut squash for a while, don’t remove the stalk! When left intact, the squash can be stored for months.
3. Spaghetti squash
Appearance: Compared to its Hokkaido cousin, this squash is a heavyweight growing up to 25 cm long and 3 kg in weight. The pale yellow colour is similar to a honeydew melon.
Origin: Don’t be fooled! Although the same suggests Italian roots, this squash is actually from Japan.
Use: Incredibly, the flesh of this yellow pumpkin actually turns into spaghetti-like strands when cooked making it a healthy alternative to pasta! Serve with tomato sauce for a healthy, low-calorie dish.
Did you know? To find out whether spaghetti squash is ready to eat, simply press the skin. If it gives way, the flesh is cooked.
4. Winter squash
Appearance: This giant squash is best known for its mammoth size with some specimens topping the 50 kg mark!
Origin: Although originally from South America, this squash grows best in temperate climates.
Use: With its high water content and mild flavour, the flesh of this squash is ideal for desserts, cakes or stews. Our tip: add pureed squash to cake mixture to keep it extra moist.
Did you know? Don’t forget about your winter squash. It only keeps for around two months.
5. Turban squash
Appearance: “Unusual” is probably the best way to describe the turban squash. A bulbous growth on top recalls an oriental turban – hence the name. It’s also more colourful than its cousins with a white, green and orange speckled skin.
Origin: The USA definitely lived up to its reputation as the land of opportunity by producing this very different looking squash!
Use: The turban squash also has a mealy consistency making it good for soups and purees. After removing the flesh, you can even use the base of the pumpkin as a soup bowl.
Did you know? The turban squash’s unique appearance occurs because, unlike other pumpkins, it doesn’t lose the flower at the top during its growth phase. The flesh simply grows around it, creating the odd looking turban hat.
Feel like trying out a pumpkin recipe at home? Get the ball rolling with our classic Pasta Zucca.
You will need (per portion):
For the sauce:
- 5 red chilli rings
- 40 g diced pumpkin (e.g. Hokkaido)
- 40 g Pak Choi
- 10 g chopped onion
- 120 ml pumpkin soup
And of course:
- 180 g pasta
For the topping:
- Grana Padano
- pine nuts
Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and good
until al dente. Combine the diced pumpkin, Pak Choi and chilli in a wok
and fry lightly in olive oil. Add the onions and continue to fry
briefly. Add the cooked pasta to the wok and season with salt and
pepper. Toss in some coriander if you like the flavour. Top with a
sprinkling of Grana Padano, some roasted pine nuts and (more) coriander