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Seasonal Squash - Shopping & Cooking

Squash Blossoms
Summer Squash
Winter Squash

Squash Blossoms

Delicate, extremely perishable flowering end of squash (usually zucchini) with a mild squash flavor.

Most often stuffed with ricotta, goat cheese, or some type of soft filling and deep-fried or sauteed. Also commonly used in soups, casseroles, and quesadillas or as a garnish.

Before using, inspect blossoms for insects, and trim off the green stem and inner, stringy sepals.

(Check out the SF Station article on these summertime delicacies.)

Look for: Freshly picked, brightly colored blossoms. Avoid those that are wilted, browned, or shriveled.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag. Use within a day of purchase.

What's cooking:
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes

  • Grilled flatbread w/ squash blossoms, red onion, pesto & fontina – Leslie Carr at Universal Cafe
  • Tomato soup w/ panir-filled squash blossoms - Harveen Khera at Tallula
  • Fried squash blossoms stuffed w/ ricotta & anchovy - Chris Lee at Eccolo
  • Fried squash blossoms filled w/ creamy fresh mozzarella w/ cucumber and frisee salad w/ basil - Charlie Hallowell at Pizzaiolo

Summer Squash

Images below.

There are many varieties of all colors and sizes; some are pictured below.

Summer squash is very tender and lacks the bitter flavor often found in winter/larger zucchinis. It's great raw or cooked.

Look for: Small to medium size, taut skin and solid flesh. Slight bruising and cuts in the skin are okay. Avoid spongey, flabby or overgrown ones.

Storage: Refrigerate in a plastic bag.

What's cooking:
Farm Recipes
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes

  • Carpaccio of heirloom squash with lemon, thyme & hot pepper – Chris Cosentino at Incanto
  • Summer polenta w/ pesto, zucchini, fresh corn, fresh mozzarella, tomato coulis, spinach & green beans – Amy Murray at Venus Restaurant
  • Zucchini cannelloni w/ garden spinach, sun dried tomatoes, pesto & balsamico – Roxanne Klein at what used to be Roxanne's
  • New Mexican stew w/ sunburst & ronde nice squash, carrots, peppers, corn, snap peas & grilled onions w/ roasted tomatoes, ancho chilies, cumin, cinnamon, marjoram & sage – Annie Somerville at Greens


Squash and cute drawings provided by Lucero Organic Farm.

Winter Squash

Images below.

Just like summer squash, there are many colors, shapes, sizes and flavors of winter squash. With their thicker rind, they have a much longer shelf life, but they also must be cooked before eating.

You can see some common local varieties below.

To cook pumpkin and larger squash:
BAKE: Cut squash into chunks, or if small, cut in half. Clean out seeds and pulp. Place in a baking dish, flesh side down, with 1-in water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender when pierced with a knife. OR:

STEAM: Cut seeded squash into large chunks. Place in a steamer basket over boiling water and cover. Steam about 20 to 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy when tested with a knife.

Look for: Squash that is heavy for its size, has a uniform shape, and has no soft spots.

Storage: Keep cool (ideally 50 degrees) and off the ground, if possible. Don't stack or store in paper or plastic bags. If there are raw cuts or bruises from harvest, let squash sit in a warm temperature until they heal. (They'll keep much longer.)

What's cooking:
Winter Squash Farm Recipes
Winter Squash Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes
More recipe links for specific squashes below

  • Pumpkin & polenta soup w/ walnut-parsley pesto -- Michael Wild & Louis Le Gassic at Baywolf
  • Butternut squash & goat cheese tart w/ apple salad -- Amy Murray at Venus Restaurant
  • Hand-made pumpkin ravioli with chanterelles, herbs, butter & pecorino romano -- Peter Erickson at 1550 Hyde Cafe & Wine Bar
  • Italian provolone-stuffed risotto cakes w/ roasted butternut squash sauce & mixed zesty greens -- Brad Levy at Firefly
  • Spicy coppa salami & grilled butternut squash w/ salsa verde & watercress -- Loretta Keller & Jennifer Beastie at Bizou
  • Deep dish pie of yellow finn potatoes, butternut squash, crimini mushrooms, turnips, celery root, carrots, peppers & leeks baked in a mushroom sherry sauce under a parmesan-mashed potato crust -- Annie Somerville at Greens
  • Grilled rib-eye steak w/ thyme-bread-crumb salsa, brussels sprouts & roasted butternut squash purée -- Ross Browne at Absinthe
- popular for stuffing -
look for those w/ the most green
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes
– very large; usually sold in sm. pieces –
great color and flavor
– very versatile –
easy to peel, moist, rich nutty flavor
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes
- aka SWEET POTATO Squash -
creamy, sweet texture, great flavor
- aka JAPANESE Squash-
dryer, less fibrous texture, sweeter flavor
Gourmet/Bon Appetit
- Sugar Pie pumpkin pic.-
several varieties available; use smaller pumpkins for cooking; carving types are watery
Farm Recipes
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes
wonderfully smooth, dry flesh
- aka CALABASH -
after cooking, the flesh can be pulled out in strands like spaghetti
Farm Recipes
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes

Most winter squash images courtesy of FoodSubs.com.