THE INDIANS were eating "askootasquash" 5000 years before the first white man arrived at Plymouth Rock and promptly changed the name to squash.

To the Indians "askootasquash" meant "eaten raw"; to the white man "squash" means anything from bright orange globular pumpkins to the palest of green pattypans, shaped like flying saucers, with hundreds of weirdly shaped, exquisitely colored gourds in between.

All of these squash belong to a family known as "curcurbits" but it's much easier to divide squash into two categories: summer and winter.

The summer varieties, like zucchini and crookneck, have soft edible skins; the winter ones, like acorn, hubbard and turban, have hard shells which make great containers but are inedible.

The best winter squash have hard rinds and seem heavy for their size. They can be peeled, boiled and seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and brown sugar for the simplest eating or they can be cut in half, the seeds scooped out and then baked at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes to an hour depending on their size. As different as they look, one from the other, all winter squashes taste pretty much the same and can be used interchangeably in recipes with each other and with pumpkin. Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Serves four to six 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed 2 tart green or red apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped Salt and pepper to taste Pinch marjoram Pinch thyme 1 quart milK 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup flour 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cook squash, apples and onion with salt and pepper in enough water to cover until squash is tender. Drain and thoroughly puree. Adjust seasoning to taste. Heat the milk slowly. Knead the butter and flour together. Add the butter mixture, little by little, to the milk, stirring with wire whisk over low heat. When mixture thickens, gradually stir in pureed mixture with marjoram and thyme. Cook, stirring, until soup thickens and is hot. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Squash Pie

Serves six to eight 2 cups cooked, mashed winter squash 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cloves 3 tablespoons molasses 3 eggs, slightly beaten 1 1/2 cup sour cream gingersnap crumb crust (see recipe)

Combine all ingredients for filling and mix well. Pour into prepared gingersnap crust and bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes, until filling is firm. Cool and refrigerate until serving time. Squash Chips

Like homefried potato chips, only a little sweeter and better Acorn squash Salt Ginger (optional)

Cut squash in quarters; seed and peel. Slice tissue-paper thin. Soak slices in ice water for an hour, drain and dry on paper toweling. Fry in deep fat heated to about 360 degrees, until golden; turn and fry on second side. Drain well on paper toweling, sprinkle with salt and ginger, if desired. Squash Rolls

Makes two dozen 2 packages dry yeast 4 tablespoons sugar 1/2 cup warm water 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 3 eggs 3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1/2 cup cooked, mashed winter squash 1 egg 2 tablespoons milk

Mix yeast with one tablespoon sugar and stir into warm water. Allow to sit for five minutes. Then add butter, remaining sugar, salt, 2 eggs and stir well. Add 3 cups flour, one cup at a time, stirring. Stir in the squash. If mixture is not stiff enough to knead, add more flour. (This is a soft dough.) Place on lightly floured board and knead for two or three minutes. Add flour only as needed to prevent sticking. When dough is smooth, shape into a ball and place in oiled bowl, turning to coat dough with oil. Cover and place in warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

Punch dough down, shape into ball again and allow to rest a couple of minutes. Divide into twenty-four equal size pieces. Place them on greased cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Cover and let rise again until doubled. Beat remaining egg with milk and brush over tops of rolls. Bake at 375 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until rolls are brown and sound hollow when tapped. Winter Squash with Nuts and Madeira

Serves six 2 acorn squash or 1 butternut squash, approximately 1 1/4 pounds 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons oil 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup madeira Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 cup bread crumbs 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons melted butter

Peel, quarter and seed squash. Cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Saute the slices in the butter and oil until lightly browned, two to three minutes. Butter a one-quart baking dish. Place half the squash in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour on half the mixture of cream and madeira. Top with remaining squash, season, and pour on remaining cream mixture. Combine bread crumbs and nuts with melted butter and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 325 degrees for forty-five minutes, or until squash is done. Gingersnap Crumb Crust 1 2/3 cups crushed gingersnap crumbs 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Combine crumbs and butter.Pat into sides and bottom of ten-inch pie plate and bake for five minutes at 375 degrees. Cool and fill. Rosalynn Carter's Butternut Squash Pudding

Serves six 2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash, thoroughly drained 1 cup milk 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter or margarine 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar*(FOOTNOTE)

* With 1/4 cup sugar the pudding is just slightly sweet and makes a good side dish to serve with meat, poultry or ham. With 1/2 cup sugar, pudding is more like a dessert. (END FOOT) 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ginger Salt to taste

While the squash is still warm, mash it with butter. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spoon into greased shallow five-cup baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for thirty-five to forty minutes, until pudding is set. Serve hot.