Even before the weather starts to turn and the leaves begin to change, one thing pops into the minds of hungry fall-lovers all over the country: Pumpkin. Pumpkin spice-everything is pretty much the norm these days, as you can get everything from lattes to bread to yogurt and candies with the sweet, season-specific flavor. However, there are a lot of other gourds and squash vegetables that ripen this time of year, and if you’re limiting your culinary tastes to just pumpkin, then you’re missing out on the true flavor of the season.
When you hit the grocery store, you’ll traditionally see three types of squash in addition to the piles of pumpkins out front. Spaghetti, butternut and acorn are the most commonly found squash at any grocer, due to the fact that those particular varieties have the longest shelf life. “The reason you find those three is they store and keep really well,” said Natalie Condon, co-owner of Isabelle Farm in Lafayette. “They can just stick those three varieties in a bin or on a shelf and they’ll let them sit there for quite a while.” That’s why it’s so much more fun to visit a farmer’s market or farm store, where you can get the true variety of squash. “When you go to a farm store you’ll find a lot of other varieties that often taste a lot better. Some are also better suited for cooking or for baking.”
More Than Pumpkin
At Isabelle Farm in Lafayette, Natalie and her husband Jason grow all kinds of winter squash. “Red Kuri is really popular, those are a favorite among squash connoisseurs, and they’re softer than a butternut or an acorn.” However, as Condon explained, the season for these delicious gourds is limited “they have an extremely short shelf life. You can pretty much only find them in October and November. They’re very soft, so they can’t handle being left out for a long time.”
Another popular seasonal variety is Buttercup Squash, which is similar to sweet potato in taste and texture. “My personal favorite is Delicata,” Condon said. “They are long and kind of shaped like a big zucchini. You cut them in half and they make a boat that is great for stuffing with other vegetables or really anything else you like. It makes for a great presentation and they cook very fast, so you can go from kitchen to table in less than 40 minutes.”
As you start cooking different types of squash, you’ll no doubt wonder what to do with all those seeds. “Don’t throw out your squash seeds. The Delicata seeds are easy to clean and they can be eaten raw or you can roast them like pumpkin seeds.” In fact, you can roast and eat pretty much any type of squash seed, which makes for an additional benefit to these tasty veggies.
Farm To Restaurant Table
Boulder County is home to several farm to table restaurants where you can get the freshest dishes with gourds taken right from a nearby farm. Visit The Kitchen in Boulder for an amazing Butternut Squash Ravioli sourced from nearby Munson Farm. Or head over to Oak at Fourteenth for Cure Farm Squash Blossom Risotto with Red Wagon Farm basil, fresh grilled zucchini and fennel.
Other farm to table options in the Boulder area include Bramble and Hare, where you can get a Squash Gazpacho — a tasty variation on a traditional dish — and Zeal Food, where you’ll find an amazing roasted winter squash soup called Fall Gusto made with spinach, bacon and spiced pepitas. They also offer a Roasted Acorn Squash entrée at Zeal, with seasoned quinoa, apricot, cashews and mint chimichurri sauce.
Boulder’s restaurant scene is full of impressive chefs finding creative ways to offer up the freshest flavors of the season and the huge variety of winter squash is the perfect challenge for such culinary minds. Sure, you can load up on pumpkin for most of the season, but branch out a bit, try something else, and pick up the usual options later. As Condon said, “save those grocery store squashes for another time of year, when these other varieties aren’t available.”
Ready to break out of usual squash-rut? Visit your friendly neighborhood farmer to see what seasonal gourds are ripe for the taking.
10029 Isabelle Road
Lafayette, CO 80026
6728 County road 3-14
Erie, CO 80516
Boulder, CO 80301
Cure Organic Farm
7416 Valmont Road
Boulder, CO 80301
63rd St. Farm
3796 63rd St.
Boulder, CO 80301
Red Wagon Farm
7694 N 63rd St
Longmont, CO 80503