Nothing says “fall” quite like butternut squash or other winter squash. Its creamy texture and sweet flavor is a welcome addition to many dishes. Add cubes to soups and stews or roast it along with potatoes and root vegetables for a hearty side dish.
Health Benefits: One cup of cooked winter squash is high in both vitamin A (214 percent of the recommended daily value) and vitamin C (33 percent), as well as a good source of vitamins B6 and K, potassium and folate.
Shopping Tips: Choose squash that is very hard: press firmly all over to make sure the rind isn’t soft (a sign of immaturity or improper storage.) During harvest season, look for vivid colors—the skin color should not look washed out. Later in the year, after the squash has been stored, the skin color may fade as the flesh becomes sweeter. Regardless of the season, the skin should not look shiny—a sign that it’s either underripe or that it’s waxed, possibly masking bad quality. Choose squash with a remnant of the dried-out stem still attached, like a small knob at one end. A missing stem can be a sign of mold and bacteria growth inside.
Storage Tips: Store in a cool spot with good air circulation (not the refrigerator, but a cool pantry or cellar) for up to a month. If you buy precubed squash at your market, make sure the pieces are dry, firm and vivid in color. Avoid those that look wet or desiccated with sunken striations in the flesh.
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