With fall in full swing, I am knee deep in squash! No, really. I have a counter full. Every time I buy groceries I pick up more. They will keep for a very long time if stored properly and they are seriously delicious! It’s honestly one of the things I love most about fall. Good quality sources of starch and carbohydrates are quite important in our daily diets and these guys are powerhouses. There are so many varieties out there that it can be overwhelming, but once you get to know them a little better you will quickly find your favorites.
I thought I would help out a little and do a little comparison between the acorn squash and the carnival squash. They are quite similar in appearance, with the obvious difference being the striations on the outside of the carnival squash. The carnival squash is actually a derivative of the acorn and the sweet dumpling squash. The color variation in the carnival squash corresponds to the growing conditions. The warmer the season, the more green in the peel. Once cut you really can’t tell the difference, though the carnival squash did have a little deeper color than the acorn.
Traditionally, we always served these roasted with melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the center and enjoyed as is. If you look around online or in cookbooks there are also many stuffed squash recipes. For me, they look good but are rarely compelling to try. I love my squash, and I love it best in it’s simplest form. I slice it in wedges, dress it with avocado oil or coconut oil, salt and pepper, and roast it in the oven. When it’s cut down like I did, it does not take long. I roasted it for about 20 minutes at 400-425. The roasting breaks down the starches and brings out the natural sugars of the squash, providing a lightly sweet flavor and soft texture. The high heat helps to brown and caramelize the outside as well, yet the center stays just right.
So how do these compare in terms of taste? Well, acorn squash is actually one of my least favorite squashes! Once I tried other varieties I found the acorn squash lacking any real flavor and depth, plus the texture is pretty dry and unimpressive. I don’t make a habit of buying them when there are so many other wonderful, more flavorful choices out there. But in trying the carnival squash for the first time, I wanted to have a fresh view of the acorn. My results for the acorn squash held true to my past experiences. It won’t be a squash I choose often. But the carnival squash surprised me! Not only was it sweeter, but it had a softer texture than the acorn. The carnival squash was more moist and satisfyingly tender. I will definitely use the carnival squash again in the future.
Now that we have a taste differentiation of the two, time for some recipe ideas to experiment with!