By Brandie Piper
You know that successful cousin you have who always needs to be the center of attention at family reunions? That’s the pumpkin. Pumpkins get all of the praise this time of year, but its close cousin, squash, deserves some love too.
From acorn to butternut to spaghetti, there are many varieties of squash that can be incorporated into delicious recipes. And it has many more popular family members you might recognize, including melons, gourds, and cucumbers. With 845 species, the Cucurbitacae family tree is quite complex.
Here is a look at a small part of the squash family tree:
One reason squash is so popular is because they can be part of a balanced plate. They’re also grown year-round, so regardless of the season, you can usually find a fresh squash variety at a local supermarket.
Winter squash varieties make for tasty additions to everything from quesadillas to pasta to casseroles. Recipes using winter squash can be found through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, squash consumption in the United States has grown in recent years, and Americans have become the biggest importers of it in the world.
Not totally sold on eating squash and would rather stick to pumpkin? Here’s another fun fact: if you’re a fan of recipes that call for canned pumpkin, you’re probably eating squash.
For more information about winter squash, visit the USDA’s website.