Photo: Ditte Isager
It's true that the winter squash has a sort of Quasimodo quality: often knobby, misshapen, mottled, and leather-skinned. Its charm is the beauty of dignified, old-looking things. Nor does the flesh inside seem too promising in its raw state. But therein lies the miracle of cooking: As it roasts, the meat of the squash caramelizes beautifully around the edges and turns buttery and sweet in the center, while holding its gorgeous autumn hue. It's delicious served chunky, sprinkled with coarse salt, or whipped with a touch of butter or cream for a rich, smooth side. Dessert, even, can be helped by squash: The flesh, pureed, adds natural sweetness to baked goods like our cinnamon rolls. And know that these dependable vegetables deliver a good dose of potassium, beta-carotene, and other phytonutrients and antioxidants—the stuff healthy cells dream of.