Pumpkin gets all the glory this time of year, but other varieties of winter squash are the season’s unsung heroes. Hardy gourds make versatile ingredients in entrees, often filling in for protein or starring in bisques and baked casseroles. Some varieties of squash even impress in desserts; it’s no secret that sweet butternut squash makes a suitable — and sometimes preferable — substitute for pumpkin in pies (ahem, Thanksgiving bakers). “You really can incorporate squash anywhere,” says Anthony Lombardo, the executive chef of 1789 Restaurant, serves squash crepes. Here are five dishes that show off the gourds’ great range.
Winter Squash Crepes
Lombardo’s new squash-and-ricotta-filled crepes ($28) at 1789 Restaurant unite four varieties of squash in a single recipe: Blue hubbard squash puree is mixed into crepe batter in place of some liquids, while the crepe filling consists of diced Long Island cheese squash, as well as pureed kuri squash mixed with ricotta cheese. A tangerine-hued squash puree and roasted diced butternut squash accompany the delicate, savory crepes. Lombardo says the dish comes with a side of nostalgia. “Squash is always there; it always comes out in fall, and it’s always going to be at every market at this time of year,” Lombardo says.
“We try to use it in a more creative way.”
1789 Restaurant, 1226 36th St. NW; 202-965-1789.
Roasted Kuri Squash Salad
Kuri squash is the centerpiece of a fall salad at Vermilion. The $12 plate also includes orbs of warm goat cheese, dried cherries, arugula, pumpkin seeds and almonds. “Everything has a purpose in the salad,” says executive chef Anthony Chittum. But contrasting textures make the squash stand out: “It’s cooked at high heat for a short amount of time, so it caramelizes,” Chittum says, making it crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Vermilion, 1120 King St., Alexandria; 703-684-9669. (King Street)
Bacon-Wrapped Cinderella Squash Lollipops
When Lincoln’s bacon-wrapped squash lollipops arrive at your table, you might initially mistake them for scallops; the golden slices atop skewers are the same size and shape. To remind you that you’re not in fact eating wedding reception hors d’oeuvres, the gourd bites are arranged vertically (and dramatically) atop a pumpkin. The honey-coated meat on the exterior of each piece is crispy, contrasting with the silky bites of roasted Cinderella squash underneath.
Lincoln, 1110 Vermont Ave. NW; 202-386-9200. (Farragut North)
Though it’s intended for lunch or dinner, Liberty Tavern’s white Autumn Pizza ($15) topped with three types of roasted squash, cheddar, ham, arugula and eggs is actually the restaurant’s take on “an eggs and ham breakfast,” says executive chef and partner Liam LaCivita. The squash chunks accent, rather than dominate — which makes the pizza approachable even to those who aren’t so hot on squash.
Liberty Tavern, 3195 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-465-9360. (Clarendon)
Butternut Squash Lasagna
The Basil Thyme food truck typically brings just one pan of its seasonal vegetarian pasta on lunch runs. “We can only carry so many pans in the truck,”explains owner Brian Farrell. But that changed when he introduced squash lasagna ($9) this fall — and kept selling out. “It was so popular that we now have two pans of it, and that’s what we’re rolling with,” Farrell says. With four ounces of diced and pureed squash in each serving (plus onions, cream, ricotta and sage), the lasagna has pops of squash-y sweetness.
Basil Thyme, 855-588-7282.