This post is inspired by the book “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen” by Sean Sherman
Squashes are an important indigenous food with a deep history. The Miami Tribe gifted seeds of an enormous orange squash to a Menominee tribal member, who shared the seeds with Mohican, Oneida and Ojibwe gardeners. This ancient squash, dubbed “Big Old Squash” (aka “Happy Traveling Seed Squash”) by Winona LaDuke is thought to date back one thousand years. The seeds have survived centuries of famine and warfare, and ancestors sewed the tiny seeds into their clothing while walking the Trail of Tears.
Today, the squashes you find in grocery stores are descendants of the iconic indigenous squash. Over time, they’ve been hybridized with varieties from other regions and parts of the world. Here’s a list of various squashes and what they’re best used for:
Kabocha – The Kabocha squash has a slightly sweet flavor, similar to that of a pumpkin and sweet potato combined. Paired with sage, it boasts a wonderful earthy flavor.
Butternut – Butternut squash is sweet, moist and nutty-tasting. It is delicious paired with mushrooms.
Carnival, Delicata and Sweet Dumpling – All three of these types of squash are small, mellow and sweet-tasting.
Sugar Pumpkin – Sugar Pumpkin, also known as pie pumpkin, is naturally sweet and works well in desserts or sweet snacks.
Spaghetti – When cooked, this squash resembles spaghetti. It has a neutral flavor and works well as a spaghetti substitute.
Blue Hubbard – Blue Hubbard squash is best roasted or steamed. With a dry, mild taste, it is perfect tossed into a salad mix.
Red Kuri – Red Kuri squash is a tear-drop shaped winter squash with orange skin. It has a flavor similar to chestnuts.
Buttercup – The Buttercup squash is mild and dry-fleshed with a semi-sweet flavor and creamy texture. It works best in savory dishes.
Acorn – Acorn squash, an ancient variety, has a very mild, slightly buttery taste and pairs well with various flavors, sweet or savory. It is terrific with wild greens.